The temperatures are falling as autumn quickly approaches. One of the best ways to enjoy the season and all it has to offer is through food. Farm-to-table dining is a way of life at these top eateries, and you can be sure to find seasonal produce along with the freshest ingredients.
The barnlike space that houses John Doherty's farm-to-table BLACKBARN on Madison Square Park has been the site of many special farm-to-table dinners and diners over the years. President Bill Clinton is a frequent guest at the restaurant, enjoying Chef Doherty's in-season delights, and the Chef's Table is a magnet for the city's in-the-know foodies. Doherty and his team scour local farms, vineyards and fisheries to procure what's best to create a dining experience vibrant with local flavors in what could be construed as an urban barn.
Showcasing these ingredients is a core part of BLACKBARN's mission, like featuring Crescent Farms duck in the restaurant's duck breast pastrami or mushrooms from Irwin Farms that give the taste and texture to the exciting wild mushroom toast. Rotating favorites include pizza topped with mission figs or porcini mushrooms depending on the season, BBQ ribs perfumed with a smoky chipotle-orange rub, olive oil-braised baby octopus, and savory butternut squash ravioli. A special treat is the restaurant's wide selection of cheeses from farms from Vermont to Minnesota.
The definition of locavore with its restaurant, market and farm-to-table philosophy, Foragers Table, sources ingredients from its own 28-acre farm in upstate New York. Foragers' hens provide eggs, and the gardens provide vegetables and herbs. Everything is organic. While the menu changes according to what's "of the moment," you can expect comfort foods like East coast fluke carpaccio, deviled Foragers Farm eggs, roasted chicken with Hudson Valley polenta, and wild striped bass. Wines are equally locavore in selection, along with beers from New York microbreweries. For dessert, maple pot de crème and rosemary focaccia bread pudding are crowd favorites. Foragers Table also serves as a neighborhood wine shop and Hudson Valley greenmarket.
Presenting itself as NYC's only farm-to-bar cocktail lounge and café, Festival Cafe on the Upper East Side offers some of the most beautiful dishes in the city in what is arguably one of the most creative settings. Respecting diners' desires for socially aware seating, the restaurant offers private chalets and cabanas in addition to the sidewalk and bar seating. The restaurant's 100% local menu consists of beverages and small plates designed for sharing.
With an unwavering commitment to locavore creation and an eye for quality, Executive Chef Andrew Matuarna and Mixologist Devan van Eyck visit sources like Barefoot Botanicals, Blue Oyster Cultivation and Lancaster Farm Fresh every few months to procure the best ingredients for their seasonally changing menus. Experience van Eyck's mixology wizardry with a "Get Balmed" cocktail made with bourbon, lemon balm and elecampane; or a refreshing "75 Acres", a gin revelation with lavender and yuzu. The herbaceous drinks pair beautifully with oysters on the half, Festival Cafe's exceptional maize flatbread or a plate of snapper crudo.
Is Brooklyn's intimate Olmsted a restaurant with a garden or a garden with a restaurant? With outdoor dining set amid the restaurant's beautiful outdoor "farm" and indoor dining room enhanced by brick walls covered with live microgreens and plants, the descriptor depends on your point of view. Chef Greg Baxtrom's menu is all about seasonal ingredients, combined with artistry and a dash of whimsy. Thanks to more seating, the popular Park Slope restaurant is easier to book now, so you won't have to wait as long to enjoy Olmsted's bright-orange carrot crêpe adorned with clams, carrot butter and carrots; or the vegetarian heirloom tomato schnitzel served with pistachio pesto, piperade and olive oil jam. Don't miss the frozen yogurt dessert, simple and fresh, with a perfect hint of lavender honey if it's on the menu.
If you time your reservation right, you can have a one-of-a-kind dinner experience at this West Village Italian restaurant. Book ahead for a tour of Rosemary's rooftop farm, where you'll see (and smell) firsthand the ingredients that find their way into the fresh Italian dishes created by Chef Michael Han. In addition to a vast array of fragrant herbs like lemon balm and rosemary, the garden also produces fruits and veggies, including ground cherries and celery, which are lowered to the restaurant in a basket. But, don't worry if you're not able to visit the urban garden -- you can still dine in the restaurant and enjoy Rosemary's seasonal bounty in the menu of salads, pasta, focacce and mains. It's sort of like dining at an Italian farm (without the farm). Pro tip: Rosemary's is so popular that it has opened a second location on the East Side.
Union Square Café
A pioneer in farm-to-table cuisine, Danny Meyer's time-tested (and forward-thinking) café offers a menu showcasing ingredients from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket. Daily visits allow chefs to create menus that are the definition of freshness and farm-to-table. The restaurant offers well-crafted protein selections like chicken scarpariello or lamb scottadita; each served with an array of farm-fresh veggies. Produce shines in elegant creations like spicy fairytale eggplant or bibb salad enlivened with slivers of Gruyère and a Dijon vinaigrette dressing. The innovative cocktail menu continues the seasonal theme -- order the tangy Gin' n Green Juice, a very green concoction of cucumbers, chili, cilantro and lime. The flagship of Union Square Hospitality Group, Union Square Café, is popular for both its bar and dining room seating.