Seasonal menus used to be the exception. Now, they’re the rule. These days, chefs showcase seasonal ingredients from small, local farmers. Diners would rather eat domestic wagyu than Japanese wagyu and American caviar than Beluga caviar. Farm-to-table dining’s become trendy, but some restaurants take it more seriously than others. There’s Greenmarket pioneers that have been around for years, like Dan Barber’sBlue Hill, and some terrific newcomers, like The Local Store. Here’s a few of our favorites:
The Local Store
Address:316 E 49th St., btwn. Second & First Aves.
It’s rare to find small-town charm in midtown Manhattan, but that’s exactly what Chef Richele Benway’s Local Store brings to this neighborhood. Part restaurant, part bakery and part wine bar, this new spot is a haven for locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients. For lunch, try the prosciutto, apple and brie on a crusty baguette. At dinner, the best strategy is to order several small plates, including goat cheese with truffle honey and a dish called “Pork on Pork Goodness,” which comes with liverwurst, deviled ham, and a pickle slice, topped with sopressata. Our favorite dishes on the menu are the agnolotti with porcini mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, and olive oil cake crowned with peach compote, blackberries and cream.
Address:70 Prince St., btwn. Broadway & Crosby Sts.
Phone: (212) 219-8570
This rustic, corner restaurant feels more like something you’d find in the country, than on a bustling corner in Soho. The dining room is furbished with wood floors, tin ceilings and even a working fireplace to cozy up to come winter. The cooking has a classic American feel to it, too. If you’re a fan of game meats, Savoy has got plenty of wonderful dishes, like fried duck livers and braised rabbit with sour cherries and Hudson Valley polenta. The best part, everything on the menu comes local farmers.
Address: 35 E 18th St., btwn. Broadway & Park Avenue
Jean Georges gets in on the Greenmarket trend with this latest venture, which is anything but a trendy afterthought . In fact, this is our favorite Vongerichten effort yet. The food, which is less expensive and more casual than what he’s known for, is exceptional and often, locally sourced. There’s line-caught tuna sashimi marinated in ginger and mint as well as roasted beets with a homemade yogurt so thick and tangy, we hope they start selling it in bulk to-go. There’s peekytoe crab or heirloom tomato toast, and calamari crusted with pretzels from the Union Square Greenmarket. For dessert, we’re mad for the market strawberries with mint, lime, tiny meringues, and a sour cream-poppy seed sorbet.
Address: 501 11th St., nr. Seventh Avenue (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 788-1810
Before Brooklyn became a culinary destination, Manhattanites were crossing the bridge for dinner at Applewood. Their daily-changing menu is proof of their passionate commitment to serving locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. They even host regular, “Meet the Farmer,” where they showcase a local farmer and their produce. You never know what’s going to be on the menu, but expect dishes, the likes of roasted Long Island blue fish with corn, mustard greens and cannellini puree, or roasted beets with grilled nectarines and a chevre cheese fondue.
Address: 75 Washington Place, nr. 6th Avenue
Phone: (212) 539 1776
You can’t really talk about the farm-to-table movement with mentioning Dan Barber. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is one of the most influential restaurants in the country. What grows on the farm at Stone Barns ends up on your table at dinner. But you don’t have to leave the city to taste Barber’s cooking, or his produce, because there’s also a Blue Hill outpost in the West Village. He uses ingredients from Stone Barn in Westchester as well as Blue Hill Farm in Massachusetts to create dishes, like chilled corn soup with local chanterelles, tarragon and corn, and Stone Barns’ pastured chicken with cranberry beans, local mushrooms and smoked tomatoes.
Address: 72 West 69th Street, nr. Columbus Ave.
Phone: (212) 580-4300
Bill Telepan has always been a leader in the farm-to-table movement and this month, he’s hosting a “Harvest Dinner” on September 28-30 to honor all of the farmers at the Greenmarket. Telepan has a talent for his boldly-flavored, bucolic cooking, like heritage pork with spicy carrots, grits, and black kale big, and wild sockeye salmon with lobster succotash, bacon and a potato puree. For dessert, try the cheese plate, which features only American cheeses, like Cinderella goat cheese from upstate, New York.
Address: 10 E 60th St., btwn. Madison & Fifth Aves.
Phone: (646) 237-8977
Rouge Tomate has quite the pedigree: It boasts a Michelin star, a global wine list and an in-house nutritionist. But all those bells and whistles aside, the food is wonderfully imaginative and they’re committed to serving locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. The result are dishes, like locally striped bass puttanesca, sea scallop carpaccio with American sturgeon caviar, and Amish country chicken with heirloom tomato jus. And if you really want to feel healthy, stop at the juice bar for a cucumber cooler or their signature, just-squeezed lemonade.
The Green Table
Address: 75 9th Ave. (Chelsea Market)
Phone: (212) 741-6623
Chelsea Market is more of a food concourse than a farmer’s market, but the Green Table brings that sustainable ethos to the Meatpacking District’s favorite shopping center. This quaint spot, an offshoot of the Cleaver catering company, sources its ingredients from local farms and their Chelsea Market neighbors (of course) to create a deliciously seasonal menu. There’s cornmeal-crusted soft shell crab with a ramp and cucumber relish and a “New York Banh Mi” with Dickson’s pork and pate, served on house-made steamed buns. One of our favorites is the mushroom pot pie with mushrooms, roasted shallots and vegetables with a whole wheat crust.