World's 25 Best Farmstead Restaurant Experiences (Slideshow)
August 9, 2013
Discover the best places for farm-to-table dining experiences all over the world
25. La Cantina del Prufesur: Montevecchia, Italy
La Cantina del Prufesur is located on a ‘holiday farm’ and winery in the hills of Brianza, northeast of Milan. Enjoy a wine tasting and fantastic view, and then head to the restaurant inside the cellar where you should definitely order the local Montevecchia cheese. Then try a risotto with rosemary, sausage, mushrooms and nettles. In the winter months, expect rich, warming dishes like donkey stew, hare and braised beef, paired with the Montevecchia Red.
24. The Farm Table Restaurant at Sleeping Child Farms: Hamilton, Montana
The outdoor dining experience at The Farm Table Restaurant at Sleeping Child Farms offers a stunning view of Montana’s picturesque Bitterroot Valley. Surrounded by rugged landscape, this sustainable farm offers fish, fowl and deer from the Sleeping Child Creek that runs through the property as well as vegetables like acorn squash, eggplant and onions grown on-site. Start with the bacon, caramelized onions and bleu cheese flat bread or the chips and curry, before moving onto hearty entrees like wild Coho salmon with red and yellow bell pepper sauce with saffron cappellini and fresh veggies or the chicken and mushroom pot pie.
23. Khao Kho Talaypu Natural Farm Restaurant: Thung Chang District, Thailand
The certified organic Khao Kho Natural Farm is a farm, holistic healing center, hotel and restaurant all in one. The restaurant uses the farm’s organic chicken, vegetables and herbs to add a kick to Thai dishes and ‘detox food,’ maintaining a serious health-conscious focus, offering “Talaypu Kitchen,” vegetarian cuisine, and “Gaia Table,” macrobiotic food. Try colorful edible floral salads, organic brown rice produced in-house (and available at local stores), fruit juices, and homemade organic ice cream. Get your Zen on.
22. Delheim: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Enjoy a wine tasting in the cellar and then head to the garden restaurant overlooking massive ancient oak trees and the vineyard leading into the Simonsberg mountains at this off-the-beaten-path vineyard. Order a bottle of Shiraz, leberwurst pâté or beef samosas with homemade sweet chili sauce to start, followed by creamy mushroom tagliatelle or Weskus snoek fish cakes with sweet potatoes and a salad of beetroot, feta and nuts, then the German cheese platter, and koeksisters for dessert. Then buy a case of wine to be shipped to your doorstep.
21. Arthur’s Restaurant at Fordhall Organic Farm: Market Drayton, U.K.
The Old Dairy building at Fordhall Organic Farm was sustainably renovated and converted into the charming Arthur’s Restaurant, which serves local and organic produce before a sweeping green landscape. Take a walk around the farm and you’ll run into happy free-range spotted pigs, chickens and lambs and Aberdeen Angus bull. The menu covers everything from British scones to BBQ. Try the beetroot soup with goats curd, chive and walnut dressing, the fennel, confit tomato and rocket pesto tartlet and the slow-roast Gloucester Old Spot pork belly and herbed pork fillet with apple and onion tarte tatin with pomme purée, broad beans and peas.
20. Posada D’es Molí: Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Lush palms, blue skies and ancient windmills surround the quiet and rural family-run hotel and restaurant Posada D’es Molí, which dates back to 1897. Since it’s located on a working farm, the restaurant’s menu takes its inspiration virtually from the backyard, where vegetables and fruit trees thrive. These provide great additions to the typical Majorcan cuisine, such as sea bass and prawns, served here. You can take in a memorable sunset at this rustic nook while enjoying great homemade breads and pastries, Spanish wines and pan-seared whole local fish.
19. The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm: Lovettsville, Va.
This was one of the nation’s first restaurants actually located on a sustainable farm. The motto around the kitchen here is “nourish the soul and excite the palate” — that’s just what chef Christopher Edwards strives for when he’s cooking up seasonal favorites like the Farmer’s Gazpacho featuring a cooling combo of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries and citrus crema or his charcoal-grilled eggplant with pancetta (from a neighboring farm), roasted garlic, green onions and jalapeños. The Carolina grits with Atlantic squid in tomato gravy with sweet peas, shad roettarga and basil are a nod to Christopher’s time spent in Charleston, S.C., but meat lovers shouldn’t miss the braised veal cheeks with potatoes, roasted beets, rice and veal reduction. And while you’re at it, how about the blackberry cobbler essence with sweet biscuit ice cream and burnt cinnamon anglaise?
18. Fuglebjerggaard: Helsinge, Denmark
After a harvest meal at Denmark’s famed Noma restaurant, head towards Helsinge, north of Copenhagen to Fuglebjerggaard farm, nursery and private home of its chef. The farm is run by Danish cookbook author Camilla Plum. Here, everything is organic from the vegetables, veal, beef, lamb, fruits and herbs to the bakery and garden café’s fresh bread and house-brewed beer (they grow the grain and the hops). In September the farm-restaurant’s annual harvest fest draws over 9,000 hungry visitors. Check out Camilla’s The Scandinavian Kitchen for a taste of Nordic farm-to-table cuisine like oven-roast plum and liquorice chutney and potato and Jerusalem artichoke pancakes with lumpfish roe.
17. Le Mas Tourteron: Gordes, France
Le Mas Tourteron, in the foothills of Vaucluse, used to be park of a silkworm farm. Today, it’s a stone-clad restaurant that draws visitors and locals — and it’s also the home of chef Elisabeth Bourgeois. A single-page menu featuring vegetables grown right in the garden is passed around to guests, prepared for a Provençal feast that begins with Rhone Valley wines. The ever-changing menu features Provençal stars like homegrown tomatoes, zucchini flowers and fresh herbs, leek and artichoke terrine, grilled mackerel, cheese plates and homemade pastries that make it worth the trip.
16. De Temporada: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The sustainable farm restaurant De Temporada is a small operation run by chef-owner James Walls and manager-owner Iliana Lanuza — with a big following. Inside an eco-friendly building made with recycled wood pallets and screws and compostable toilets, De Temporada churns out colorful and creative dishes using the restaurant’s farm and local produce. The cash-only joint changes its menu frequently based on what’s in season — in summer, go for the Korean lettuce wraps, green papaya salad with octopus, sweet corn soup, pork loin sandwich with an orange, apricot and cranberry chutney. De Temporada is BYOB so grab some local Mexican beers before heading over for a late lunch or early dinner.
15. The Sportsman: Seasalter, U.K.
The Sportsman isn’t exactly on a farm — in the case of Stephen Harris’ restaurant, the bountiful sea doubles as a farm for specialties like cockles, oysters, seaweed and even, salt. Like that of a farmer, this chef’s principles rely on using all seasonal resources available and he even collects, strains and boils saltwater to produce sel gris. The Sportsman pub also has its own garden that yields zucchini, herbs and salad while other vegetables and fruits and eggs, chickens, venison, pigs and geese are sourced from neighboring farms. Soda bread is lathered in butter Stephen himself churns. The changing chalkboard menu is successful in its surf and turf ambition — lamb belly schnitzel with mint sauce, house-cured ham, deep-fried lard-wrapped oysters from the beach, house-made chorizo and brown crab risotto, with sweets like rhubarb sorbet and chocolate tart.
14. White Oak Pastures: Bluffton, Ga.
Executive chef Reid Harrison, (“I go by Reid ‘cause my mom thought it sounded better”) commands the menu at The Pavilion at White Oaks Pastures, a sustainable restaurant located on picturesque fifth generation farm. The high quality of grass-fed beef and lamb, pork, free-range poultry, pastured eggs and farm-fresh vegetables is an indication of what to expect from Reid’s evolving menu and the farm’s commitment to the environment. “Our strength is meat, we’ve been raising cattle out here since 1866,” says Reid, who notes that this is the only farm in the U.S. that has both a USDA-certified beef and chicken abattoir… so you should order a burger. “The 1866 burger is a simple burger that really highlights the flavor of the grass-fed beef. It’s night and day from traditional store-bought beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, and that’s all it needs,” he says. He also offers the ground free-range chicken “Biddy Burger,” with herbs from the garden and a lemon basil chicken salad with homemade foccacia bread. Reid describes The Pavilion as “a real simple, causal, laidback atmosphere, picnic–style” with a four-acre vegetable garden providing all the décor you need.
13. Le Castelas: Sivergues, France
Le Castelas is a working goat farm in Provence located near the village of Sivergues, on the gravel road past the sign that reads ‘"Fin de la Route.” With a little patience, you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Ferme-Auberge le Castelas, overlooking rocky cliffs and fields with roaming goats, pigs and sheep, a sort of walking menu. Toast with chilled rosé at long wooden table at the stone farmhouse (or outside beneath a chestnut tree). Smell the lavender in the air as you dig into local delights like cured meat and a variety of chèvre with honey (all made on the farm), very fresh garden salads and homemade breads, and warm chocolate cake.
12. River Cottage: Axe Valley, U.K.
Dine in a seventeenth-century barn on the 60-acre Park Farm in the Axe Valley, bordering Devon and Dorset. Head over to the farmhouse for a memorable Friday or Saturday night dinner with a fun bunch, or check out the expertly curated four-course lunch at the River Cottage Farmhouse. Arrive by tractor or trailer at the restaurant’s front door, and you’ll be handed a drink and canapés like sauté of chicken liver, gizzard and heart with sherry, garlic and cream, before venturing out on a farm tour. You’ll quickly get the sense of how hands-on the chefs at this eatery are (In fact, River Cottage also has an amateur and professional culinary training program). Order a bottle of local or organic wine and explore the menu, which features River Cottage salami, homemade mutton haggis, herb-roast chicken with pork and sage stuffing, shallots, roast squash and an organic green salad. Finish with vanilla yogurt panna cotta with caramelized plums on toast. You definitely need a reservation here, but there are three other “canteen” restaurants in Axminister, Plymouth and Bristol to check out too.
11. Finca y Granja Narbona in Carmelo, Uruguay
In Uruguay, amidst vintage-inspired lodging with luxury comforts on a vineyard, an old general store was converted into a charming gourmet restaurant with an emphasis on sustainability. Besides boasting an extensive wine list from Narbona’s winery, specialty products reign supreme like homemade caramel, yogurt, ice cream, camembert and brie cheese. While there’s plush seating outside, sit inside at a table facing the large sunny windows or post up on a bar stool to enjoy the general store’s old-world brick walls, floor-to-ceiling shelving and wooden counter tops, which have been immaculately maintained and now display the day’s layered cakes. Try the Tannat Rosé, homemade pasta like ravioli with in-house parmesan, salmon with roasted vegetables and dulce de leche flan. Come back for breakfast — flaky croissants, in-house cheeses and homemade fruit jams.
10. The Herbfarm Restaurant: Woodinville, Wash.
Following an outdoor garden tour at The Herbfarm, enjoy a nine-course dinner inspired by the seasonal food and excellent wines of the Pacific Northwest. The Herbfarm sources ingredients like wild mushrooms, heritage fruits, handmade cheeses and water-grown wasabi root from nearby farms but the constantly changing menu also takes a hint from the kitchen’s own garden harvest. Dinners can also take a theme like Augusts’ Great Basil Banquet. Creativity flows in the kitchen with dishes like stinging nettle soup with Puget Sound mussels as well as stick-to-your-bones winter squash ravioli with currants and sage butter and roast spring squab with morels and fiddleheads. Reservations required.
9. The Fearrington House Restaurant: Pittsboro, N.C.
Just eight miles south of Chapel Hill, the plush white-columned restaurant at the Fearrington House Inn is a hidden food lover’s goldmine under the expertise of executive chef Colin Bedford. The fine dining restaurant, which was once a farmhouse, sits before ornamental gardens and pastures, a visual preview of Colin’s clever vegetable-oriented dishes paired with top-notch meats and fish. While many travel for the restaurant’s famous hot chocolate soufflé, first indulge your appetite with yellow pepper soup, crab with sherry and nutmeg custard, sudachi and black pepper tapioca, chicken fried pork cheeks with sour cherries, cucumber, collard greens, peanuts, jalapenos and radish, and the local seared North Carolina red fish served with crispy egg yolk and scallop and mint velouté with eggplant, spinach, salsify and pepquinos. For the vegetarian Colin offers a dishes that’s a far cry from a drab vegetable plate — try his globe artichoke paired with roasted sunchokes, eggplant caviar, pine nuts, cronses, Beluga lentils, tarragon and baby carrots.
8. Flora's Field Kitchen: San José del Cabo, Baja, Calif.
Travel down a dirt road far enough in Cabo and you’ll find a series of straw-thatched cottages and an organic farm, but make no mistake, at Flora’s you’re in for a luxury experience out of the norm (and yes, the cottages are available to rent). To start, the cocktails are unbelievable, prepared with extra special ingredients like house-made bitters and tonic water, but if a lavender martini or 'Farmarita' (margarita with carrot juice) isn’t your thing, order the sangria made with grilled fruits. Bring a group and share coconut pineapple bisque, chicken liver mousse, beet carpaccio, prosciutto with homemade focaccia or sourdough olive bread, shrimp and arugula or potato and egg pizza, and that’s just to start. In addition to vegetables and fruits, all of Flora’s organic, hormone-free pork, chicken and eggs are raised on Flora’s nearby 150-acre ranch so don’t miss out on the pork chops with salsa verde. Top it off with homemade chocolate cake.
7. Fäviken Magasinet: Järpen, Sweden
At Magnus Nilsson’s Fäviken Magasinet, the emphasis is local hunting and seasonal vegetables grown on the Jämtland mountain farmland paired with traditional in-house jarring, salting, drying and pickling for winter months. The 20,000-acre estate is one of Sweden’s largest privately owned properties and it covers forest and mountainous terrain plus waterways, offering a versatile selection of daily ingredients. Expect old dairy cow meat that’s dried for six months and scallops prepared atop burning juniper.
6. La Provence Restaurant: Lacombe, La.
La Provence, which has previously been named one of the “Most Romantic Restaurants” by Travel+Leisure, is the brainchild of famed New Orleans chef John Besh. Though not exactly on a farm, La Provence offers rustic Provençal comforts prepared with sustainable ingredients from La Provence’s own “kitchen garden.” Cozy up by the fireplace at the antique French bar for a cocktail before crossing over aged Oriental rugs to your candlelit dinner table. Begin with the whole-roasted quail jumbo and the Silver Queen corn ravioli with a slow-cooked egg, chicken crackling and Parmesan. Entrées showcase spectacular meats paired with backyard ingredients like the burrata-stuffed crispy local softshell crab with harissa and ratatouille jus or the “Cochon de Lait Pork Head to Toe” with corn, chanterelles, cherries and charred onions. For $46, you might splurge on the roast rack of lamb, featuring crispy panisse, spicy lamb sausage, roast peppers, braised salsify and Covey Rise heirloom squash. For dessert, try the pots de crème trio in gianduja (a sweet chocolate with hazelnut paste), lavender and honey and blackberry.
5. La Chassagnette: Arles, France
Grab a seat on the terrace of La Chassagnette, located in the heart of the Camargue valley, and sip Veuve Clicquot Champagne while taking in the sight of the restaurant’s gardens filled with fresh herbs, greens, vegetables like beets, onions, eggplants, carrots, and green peas, which will eventually work their way into your dessert course as a soufflé. The first “all-organic” restaurant to receive a Michelin star, La Chassagnette serves its organic vegetables and local meats and fish in a simple but elegant fashion with treats like cream of pumpkin soup with Spanish ham and pears, squid with arugula salad, pigeon roasted in fig leaf, ‘Tofu Romanesco’ with a roasted shallot broth and purple chard gratin, roasted mackerel with beans, chives, watercress and tonnato sauce (a blend of mayonnaise, olive oil, tune, anchovy, lemon juice and capers), and raspberry pannacotta with blueberry coulis.
4. The Barn at Blackberry Farm: Walland, Tenn.
Blackberry Farm, a farm, resort and food Mecca located on a 4,200-acre property in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, was named the #1 Hotel for Food Lovers this year by Bon Appétit and the hotspot doesn’t disappoint. Upon arrival, take a tour of the estate and the expansive wine cellar, and then cool off with a “Garden Mary” made with garden-infused organic vodka, Fee Bros. whiskey barrel-aged bitters, Bloody Mary mix, radish, pickled okra, celery and thyme. Gentleman put your dinner jackets on for a spectacular feast at The Barn restaurant inside a grand turn-of-the-century barn. Candles, antique linens and sterling silver add a sense of nostalgic charm while the chef’s “Foothills Cuisine” pays homage to Smoky Mountain’s rustic dishes with a refined, contemporary flair. Try dishes like the farm’s own Singing Brook cheese with candied walnuts and apple butter, butter Bibb lettuce with the beloved Benton’s bacon, pickled onions and herb buttermilk dressing, the Southern-comfort country fried sweetbreads with carrot purée, mustard greens, roasted shallots and dilly beans, West Wind Farms chicken with fabulous Charleston Gold Rice boudin, braised collard greens and chicken confit, plus the North Carolina mountain trout with butter bean and corn succotash and arugula grown just feet away in the garden. Save room for dessert because the creativity continues here with treats like local carrot-apple upside down cake with cinnamon ice cream, warm sorghum cake with caramel mousse, orange caramel and pecan brittle, plus an enticing frozen pumpkin soufflé with ginger cream.
3. John Andrews, A Farmhouse Restaurant: South Egremont, Mass.
Chef Dan Smith gives farm-to-fork culture a sensational flavor boost in this exquisite restaurant, which changes its menu each week to reflect local produce and New England heritage. The farmhouse dinner spot also features an award-winning wine list. For the full-on experience, opt for the $30 farm prix fixe menu – recently it featured produce from Great Barrington’s Taft Farms prepared with mouthwatering appeal like a tempura of chèvre with stuffed squash blossoms in sage brown butter, tomato and squash risotto and lemon panna cotta with blueberries. John Andrews also does on-site catering.
2. Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
Tucked into the hills of Westchester County, Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant transports its visitors back to the Stone Barns’ original 1930s roots. Not much has changed on the 80-acre farm since its original purpose as a dairy farm by John D. Rockefeller Jr. However, today guests are free to roam the farm, collect eggs, attend talks by the likes of The Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan and eat the farm’s meat, poultry and fresh produce. Menus change with the seasons, but guests can expect dishes such as veggie platters, smoked cabbage, and homemade brioche toast with ricotta cheese. Cult foodie fans flock to Blue Hill as well as the chef’s Greenwich Village restaurant where you’ll find the same high-quality meats like Crossabaw pigs and vegetables like Magic Mountain tomatoes grown just 30 miles away.
1. Babel at Babylonstoren: Cape Winelands, South Africa
The experience doesn’t get much more authentic than at Babylonstoren, a 1690 Cape Dutch homestead with an eight-acre working farm in the Franschhoek Valley of the Cape Winelands. There, guests will stay at the ‘Farm Hotel,’ modern glass cubes attached to an 18th century thatched-roof landhuisie building. Every day you’ll have the unique opportunity of venturing out to the farm to pick your own herbs like thyme, rosemary, garlic, vegetables like butternut squash, beets, rocket, peppers and radishes, fruits like gooseberries, grapes, mulberries and nectarines, and even honey at the apiary. From there, you can either opt to cook these precious fresh delights yourself in your suite’s designer kitchen or you can head over to the farm’s chic restaurant, Babel, to have the pros prepare the fruits of your hard labor while you relax under the setting sun. It’s a true farm to table joint with luxury appeal. Expect well-executed dishes like grilled lightly smoked Franschhoek trout with quince and fresh coriander paste, drizzled with burnt sage butter and served with rolled red spinach and num num confit.