The staff at this Southern-accented restaurant in Athens not only source the ingredients they cook and serve from their own Full Moon Farms, they also till the soil. That means a menu based less on chef Matt Palmerlee’s creative fancy than on what he saw in the ground that morning. “To cook for us,” says partner Olivia Sargeant, “you’ve got to be able to Iron Chef fifty pounds of rutabagas when you thought you were getting blueberries.” Dinner for two $65.
What to Eat: A burger made from staff-raised beef is a constant on the ever-changing menu.
What to Drink: Farm-fresh cocktails, such as a Bloody Mary made with heirloom tomatoes.
Courtesy of Montagna
Tucked beneath Ajax Mountain in the Little Nell hotel, Montagna has served Aspen’s best meals for years. But with the recent addition of chef Hardy’s 25-acre farm in nearby Crawford, where he raises lamb, pigs, and chickens, and grows everything from figs to sour cherries, things are different. The dinner menu changes nightly (rather than twice a year, as before), house-cured salumi is a standard, and pastas made with Hardy’s own farm-raised eggs approach transcendence. Dinner for two $180.
What to Eat: The grilled T-boned lamb.
What to Drink: Gems such as Napa’s 1991 Dominus ($375) cost less than elsewhere and are worth the indulgence.
David Kinch has one of the great creative minds in American cooking, and for the past three years he’s had vegetables as fresh as his ideas. He doesn’t own Love Apple Farm, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but controls its production from seed to harvest. That gives him ingredients worthy of his hyper-precise technique, as demonstrated by unique dishes such as flash-fried ravioli stuffed with beet greens and coriander ice in a soup of barely cooked tomatoes. Dinner for two $310.
What to Eat: The $155 tasting menu—one of the country’s most exciting dining experiences.
What to Drink: A grassy but tense 2005 Pouilly-Fumé Pur Sang from Didier Dageneau.
Courtesy of Kirklandviews.com
Brian Scheehser, the executive chef at this informal restaurant in Kirkland’s Heathman Hotel, loves to personally present a dish with its exact provenance—as in, “Those beans were in the ground forty-six minutes ago.” Scheehser’s three-acre farm in neighboring Woodinville—where the harvest includes strawberries, purple-passion asparagus, viola artichokes, a panoply of root vegetables, and 19 kinds of tomatoes—makes such a rapid earth-to-mouth transition possible. He buys meat and poultry from organic producers, then turns out rustic meals with a Pacific Northwest touch. Dinner for two $80.
What to Eat: A field-greens salad is sure to bring Scheehser tableside with details. Continue with pan-roasted trout alongside his own sautéed zucchini and oven-dried Italian plum tomatoes.
What to Drink: Columbia Crest’s polished 2004 Reserve Syrah, made right up the road.
Courtesy of Sooke Harbour House