Hyper-Local Garden Dining

We Must Have Our Own Garden
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Psssst! Did you know that locally grown produce is “one of the hottest menu trends, coming in behind only locally sourced meats and seafood, according to the National Restaurant Association’s ‘What’s Hot in 2014′ survey of nearly 1,300 professional chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation.” And, “Hyper-local sourcing,” such as restaurant gardens, claims sixth-place on the list.”

We love finding places like Estia’s Little Kitchen, which sources from its very own garden “to differentiate itself.” One of its ads says, “Come for dinner and walk our chef’s garden to witness the source of his famous seasonal offerings.” The menu features a “Two-Hour Salad,” freshly plucked from house garden. You have incredible greens in the springtime; green beans, onions and roasted beets with blue cheese in the summer; and in the fall roasted squash and goat cheese. come fall, greens are topped with roasted squash and goat cheese.

There are other restaurant-based urban gardens as well, such as that at Chicago’s Frontera Grill. Chef Rick Bayless “has proven that neither a warm clime nor a large plot of land is a gardening necessity. Bayless grows about 1,000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes and chili peppers each summer in portable self-watering EarthBoxes. The harvested produce is brought down to the kitchen, where the culinary staff transforms it into Frontera’s signature Rooftop Salsa.”

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Oh. My. Word.

And, “A few minutes away, another innovative garden grows in the midst of Chicago’s bustling O’Hare airport. National Restaurant Association member HMSHost Corporation and the Chicago Department of Aviation have developed the world’s first airport aeroponic garden. Swiss chard, sweet basil, cilantro, dill and more are grown on 8-foot-tall towers, without soil. The 928-square-foot O’Hare Urban Garden supplies fresh produce for several airport restaurants including Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi, Blackhawks Restaurant and Tuscany. Travelers can view the garden while dining at the O’Hare Bar and Grille–a meal that may feature produce grown just a few feet away.”

Read all that and more at http://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Marketing-Sales/Sustainability/A-blooming-trend-Gardens-are-sprouting-up-at-rest. If you can’t grow your own, you can make reservations at a trendy place that grows the good stuff for you.

But wait. There’s more! We of course are drawn to anything that boasts Latin flavors, and this site talks about it to a decent extent: “The past year or so has seen a resurgence in the urban garden, and it’s largely thanks to Latin, Caribbean, or rural chefs and mixologists who have launched their own venues. Many grew up in much poorer countries, raising chickens, pigs, and vegetables for their families’ main sustenance, or in places where land or water is at a premium. Thus they have a different outlook on this business of farming, foraging, cooking, and serving. Go to http://thelatinkitchen.com/blogs/a/garden-eating-best-restaurants-growing-their-own-food for additional insight.

Still more with this eatery in Napa, called Brix. “The official name says it all: Brix Restaurant and Gardens. Chris Jones tweaks the Southern French/Northern Italian menu daily, depending on what’s available in the 2-acre garden behind the restaurant. The plantings are beautifully manicured, and diners are encouraged to walk around the raised beds.” Several others get digital ink at http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/sixofakind/article/6-restaurants-that-grow-own-ingredients-4321687.php.

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