Farm-to-table dining is no longer a novelty. Just ask your waiter where your salad’s watercress is from and you can expect him to launch into an often-parodied conversation about sourcing from hydroponic ‘rooftop farms’ in Brooklyn. Meticulous sourcing by fine dining establishments is fantastic but today, it is also expected.
A more hands-on approach to the entertaining aspect of knowing what you eat is the rising popularity of agritourism. Known in some countries as a “farm stay,” this food-meets-farm traveling and eating experience allows visitors to stay in farm lodging, eat meals with produce fresh from the farm, and in some cases, guests can take a turn at helping out and learning more about the day-to-day tasks. The booming business of agritourism caters to the luxury traveler who wants to enjoy privacy at a remote ranch in Italy with posh lodging or the adventure-seeking, dollar-conscious trekker who wants to get away from it all at a fruit farm in California. Of course, the fresh food served at these farms’ restaurants is a big draw too, and these restaurants are tightly required to serve a minimum amount of ingredients from their farm and nearby partnering suppliers on their menus.
The Daily Meal has complied a list of global spots where discerning diners can partake in agri-adventures like a candlelit meal at communal tables inside a barn, a pick-your-own-produce dinner and a pre-lunch tour of farms, cheese factories and vineyards. Restaurants were chosen and ranked based on overall value, critical acclaim, reflection of the local region, and percentage of local produce and/or meat on the menu.
Our list is not focused on the agritourism restaurants monitored by law, but is instead a dedicated tribute to the most rustic restaurants that have embraced a bucolic spirit on their own accord. They are as much about creating a memorable journey as they are about offering unforgettable and inventive seasonal menus that turn the freshest produce into the finest fare. These pastoral-inspired restaurants connect you, the diner, to another kind of kitchen you probably can’t access behind your backyard each night. We’re talking cattle farms, dairy farms, vineyards and “kitchen gardens” behind restaurants.
At these agri-centric restaurants, you can expect treats balancing regional and seasonal attention like chèvre tempura with stuffed squash blossoms in the Berkshires at John Andrews: A Farmhouse Restaurant, whole-roasted quail jumbo at La Provence in Louisiana, pigeon roasted in fig leaf served at La Chassagnette in Arles, France, deep-fried lardo-wrapped oysters and house-produced salt from the beach at The Sportsman in the U.K., and warm sorghum cake with caramel mousse, orange caramel and pecan brittle at The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.
At these restaurants, you’ll be happily conscious of exactly what you’re eating, but if there’s one thing you shouldn’t be conscious of, it’s the calories, so feast away.