Across the nation, the farm-to-table dining movement is catching on. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, “Farm-to-Table” means that the food you’re consuming is seasonally fresh, often organic, and locally grown. It’s really a no-brainer, yet the majority of U.S. restaurants don’t abide by this simple philosophy. Luckily for Californians, farm-to-table restaurants are popping up all over, especially in Northern Cal, which is actually the birthplace of the cuisine trend.
In 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkley, California. Her ideology? “The best-tasting food is organically and locally grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound…” Not only was Chez Panisse a success, but it also ignited a trend that is still growing 40 years later.
Take a look at five of the Bay Area’s most loved farm-to-table restaurants. We guarantee you’re going be making reservations soon.
Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café
1517 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94709
Restaurant: (510) 548-5525 • Café: (510) 548-5049
Closed for Renovations, but will reopen June of 2013
Even though Chez Panisse is temporarily closed, it’s impossible to share a most-loved “farm-to-table” list without including it. The trendsetting spot features a menu that changes nightly to ensure only the freshest, seasonal organic ingredients are used. Some of the most highly rated dishes include the Fried Artichokes with Rocket and Black-Truffle Vinaigrette Salad, Monkfish and Brussels Sprouts, Bouillabaisse, and the Fig Tarte. Prices are hefty, but devotees believe the cuisine is worth every penny. The restaurant and more affordable café should both be re-opening in June of 2013.
2200 Oxford St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Lunch, Dinner, Weekend Brunch
Gather is another Berkeley favorite, renowned for its dedication to sustainable cuisine. The menu changes daily and features a range of cuisine that includes brick-oven pizzas, braised meats, and vegetable dishes—all sourced from their partner, Lindencroft Farms. “The passion shows on the plate” touts the San Francisco Chronicle and considering the online raves, it seems foodies agree. Walk-ins welcome, but reservations suggested.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Lunch and Dinner
Nestled in the countryside setting of Napa Valley is the legendary French Laundry restaurant. Thomas Keller opened this farm-to-table gem in 1994 and before long it landed in Esquire magazine’s “10 Best New Restaurants” list. Since that time, the restaurants unique philosophy—“a great meal is an emotional experience”—has made the French Laundry a favorite due to both its impeccable service and “must-try” cuisine. They feature fixed priced “tasting menus” with dishes such as Oysters and Pearls (Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar), Sweet Butter-Poaches Alaskan King Crab, and Spring Brook Farms “Tarentaise” (New Crop Potato Salad, Spring Onions, Cornichons, and Malt Vinegar “Mousseline”). They also have a “Vegetable Tasting Menu” for adventurous vegetarians. Reservations are a must.
470 Pacific Ave.
San Francisco 94133
Set in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighborhood is Quince, a charming farm-to-table restaurant specializing in Italian and French-inspired menus. Their inventive, daily-changed menu features seasonal, fresh fare, including dishes like Black Sea Bass (with Prince Edward Island Mussel, spinach, and Riso Venere), Zuckerman’s Green Aparagus (with Smoked Egg Yolk, Miner’s Lettuce and Hazelnut) and Pistachio Millefoglie (Honey-Comb, Lemon Confit, and Sicilian Pistachio Gelato). Reservations are suggested up to two months in advance.
The Tavern at Lark Creek
234 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA 94939
Happy Hour, Dinner, Dessert, Weekend Brunch
Tavern at Lark Creek is a fun take on farm-to-table dining. The vibe is California casual, the prices are not over the top, and the food is seasonally fresh, creative, and—judging from the Yelp raves—“superb.” Some of the can’t miss dishes include the Point Reyes Blue Cheese Soufflé (with Wild Arugula, Strawberries, Walnuts, and Beet Vinaigrette), the BBQ Wagyu Burger, and the Butterscotch Pudding (with Chantilly Cream). Reservations and walk-ins are welcome.
What are your favorite farm-to-table restaurants? Let us know!
* The French Laundry Image, Courtesy Of: www.alifewortheating.com