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2000s Archive

Restaurants with Farm Connections

Blackberry Farm

Luxe plus local: Everything from cheese to honey is produced on-site at Blackberry Farm.


Amherst Chinese Food

The vegetables at Amherst Chinese Food (Am Chi to locals) are picked at owner Tso-Cheng Chang’s farm and greenhouse in nearby South Deerfield. Chang grows the Chinese leeks for his plump pork dumplings and delivers a spectacular star-anise-seasoned mock goose made of layered bean curd skin. Meats are accessorized with a variety of farm-fresh produce: beef with Chinese eggplant in thick soy gravy and chicken with mustard greens. Am Chi’s signature beverage, Homegrown sandraberry (wu wei zi), a tangy, crimson-colored juice said to boost the immune system. 62 Main St., Amherst, MA (413-253-7835)

Blackberry Farm

This luxury outpost is one of the pioneers of the local-seasonal movement, and much of its cheese, eggs, honey, vegetables, and fruit is produced on-site or sourced nearby. Tennessee paddlefish roe with crème fraîche, roasted locally raised poussin, and buttermilk mashed potatoes are only the beginning. 1471 W. Miller’s Cove Rd., Walland, TN (865-984-8166)

Crook’s Corner

One sultry summer when the scent of honeysuckle in the tented bamboo garden overtook Crook’s guests and kitchen staff, owner Gene Hamer asked chef Bill Smith to capture the heady bouquet in something edible. Today, Smith’s honeysuckle sorbet is the hottest dessert at the 25-year-old restaurant The New York Times once called “sacred ground for Southern foodies.” Other highlights include catfish amandine, shrimp and grits, and out-of-this-world collards. A sense of family prevails at Crook’s, where staff and friends glean or grow for Smith. “Pecans, persimmons, figs, and Jerusalem artichokes I buy from my friend Mary Andrews, a woman in her 80s who called me up 20-some years ago to see if I wanted some mint,” he says. 610 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC (919-929-7643)


This bustling Alexandria spot functions like an impromptu community center fueled by house-cured charcuterie. Chef Cathal Armstrong has a strong relationship with the local farmers, so they offer him their biggest morels, their sweetest berries, and the first choice of every delicacy that pushes through the earth. Pork belly confit is paired with fava beans and fresh-picked oregano, and sautéed Atlantic sturgeon with New Point Hope oysters. Even the bartender celebrates the seasons, serving up vodka infused with fresh gooseberries and Bloody Marys made with just-picked tomatoes. 110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria, VA (703-706-0450)


Local shrimp and chicken, farmers market vegetables, and North Carolina porgy feature on Andrea Reusing’s contemporary pan-Asian menu at Lantern, her unpretentiously stylish restaurant on Chapel Hill’s main business street. Here, diners enjoy astonishing specials like head-to-tail pork terrine and crisp-fried salt-and-pepper soft-shelled crab. Pastry chef Monica Segovia-Welsh astonishes with creations like steamed yuzu pudding with blueberries, and the wine list is an eclectic delight. 423 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC (919-969-8846)

La Provence

John Besh built his national reputation at Restaurant August, but his formative years were spent across Lake Pontchartrain at La Provence. There, he learned his trade working under Chris Kerageorgiou, the chef who opened the restaurant in 1972. Besh purchased the place last year and installed chef de cuisine Steven McHugh to give the menu a farm-to-fork sensibility. Livestock grazes out back, and local seafood stars in a number of dishes. A flash-fried buster crab escorts a salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil, and baby mustard greens, and the milk-fed chicken arrives roasted with fresh garden herbs. 25020 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, LA (985-626-7662)

Pacific’o and I’o

James McDonald loves to take guests to his upcountry Maui farm, where they pick organic produce that he then turns into lunch. The 8.5-acre spread provides nearly all the greens, herbs, fruits, and vegetables for his two Lahaina restaurants. I’O’s style is “contemporary Pacific,” while Pacific’O focuses more on Asian flavors and preparations, offering unusual seafood entrées like the hapa hapa: two colors of fish, flash-fried in tempura batter and enlivened with ginger, Kaffir lime leaves, basil, and Thai curry. 505 Front St., Lahaina, Maui (Pacific’O: 808-667-4341; I’O: 808-661-8422)

2nd Street Bistro

Their commitment to local producers has earned co-owners Brian Menges and John and Jennifer McNaughton a loyal following at this relaxed spot in the center of a former railroad town. Here, cowpokes, authors, film stars, and fly fishermen leave their obsessions behind and concentrate on the wonders before them: local lamb, fresh as spring pastures, crusted in Moroccan spices, and local pork chops, brined, cold-smoked, flame-seared, and nestled next to still-bright sautéed chard and tiny Irish potatoes so sweet they can’t have traveled farther than from just down the block. 123 N. 2nd St., Livingston, MT (406-222-9463)

Tree House Pastry Shop and Café

It takes serious commitment to run a restaurant devoted to local ingredients, but to do it in the desert you have to be either crazy or very, very good. Tree House Pastry Shop and Café succeeds magnificently, by limiting its menu to just a few items and executing them perfectly. The setting, on the grounds of a sprawling plant nursery, is idyllic, and so is the simply prepared food. The greens in the salads taste green and aren’t drowned in dressing, the goat cheese is rich and tangy, and the sandwich of the day is served on bread that’s as good as any in town. 3095 Agua Fria Rd., Santa Fe (505-474-5543).