As the change of season ushers out winter’s rich braises and sturdy root vegetables, a delicate crop of spring ingredients arrives to awaken diners’ palates. Prepare for seasonal specialties such as ramps, fresh peas, morels, fava beans, rhubarb and fiddlehead ferns to invade restaurant menus. To sample the bounty at peak freshness, seek out a farm-to-table restaurant that plucks its produce directly from the dirt. But hurry: Spring’s star ingredients are flavorful but fleeting, soon to vanish in the heat of summer.
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Field and pantry are one at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. The Washington, D.C.-area dining destination shepherds Loudoun County’s bounty of organic, sustainably grown ingredients from farm to fork and serves them up in a glass-walled dining room overlooking the Potomac River. The long-awaited spring thaw inspired a dish named Veggies and Wild Things from Around the Farm, featuring baby vegetables and wild weeds prepared seven ways. Apart from being visually stunning, “It’s really fun to eat,” says chef Tarver King.
Quiessence at The Farm
Phoenix isn’t usually considered farm country, but the menu at Quiessence suggests otherwise. Hyper-seasonal offerings planned just one week in advance make inventive use of herbs, edible flowers, citrus fruits and more sourced from the 10-acre property’s not-so-barren desert soil. Multicourse tasting menus, handmade pasta and a signature brick oven experience are staples at this foodie’s oasis on the grounds of The Farm at South Mountain, which includes gardens, restaurants, shops and event space.
The Crosby Bar
New York City
A miniature urban farm complete with chicken coop hovers over SoHo on the roof of Crosby Street Hotel. Rooftop produce and eggs feed shoppers and gallery-hoppers at The Crosby Bar, the hotel’s hip, airy and hardworking restaurant, open from breakfast to nightcap. Herbs and salad greens represent spring’s earliest menu boosters. As the season progresses, ripe berries appear in pastries at afternoon tea, a daily offering available in traditional and detox varieties.
An old-school sophisticate with a locavore’s soul, the 107-year-old Capitol Grill in Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel derives farm-to-table inspiration not from trendsetters, but from centuries-old Southern farming traditions. The restaurant partners with The Land Trust for Tennessee to grow heirloom produce at Glen Leven Farm, a few miles from downtown, and raises Red Poll cattle farther afield on Double H Farms in White Bluff.
Farm to table need not be fancy. At Urbane, Pacific Northwest ingredients shine in classic comfort-food dishes including burgers, mac and cheese, poutine, and fish and chips. The epicurean spoils from local fishermen, farmers and cheesemakers elevate the offerings above standard diner fare. Regional wines and brews draw happy hour and pre-theater crowds to this sleek hot spot inside the new Hyatt at Olive 8.