There’s a story in every meal.
“Which farmer planted, tended, and harvested these beans?”
“Is this local, pastured chicken?”
“I wonder if this cornbread was made with locally grown and ground corn.”
“Where was this Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab caught?”
What a pleasure it is to know the answers to those questions, and to know that you’re eating well while contributing to small business and local agri- and aquaculturists. Learn more about your meal with these fiercely dedicated locavore experiences.
Pleasure House Oysters’ Chef’s Table Tour
Virginia oysters have made a comeback, and you can take part in the harvest when you book a Pleasure House Oysters’ Chef’s Table Tour. Outfitted with waders, you and your dinner companions will venture into the Lynnhaven River where a table comprised of a crab pot and a slab of wood await.
The Chef’s Table Tour is a three- to four-hour experience that includes a boat ride to the farm and hands-on farming opportunities. You’re welcome to bring a bottle of Virginia wine to complete your uniquely Virginia experience.
Winter hoop houses extend the growing season for Harvest Table Restaurant.
In the mountains of southwest Virginia sits Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview. Spurred by Steven Hopp and his family’s one-year experiment to eat only whatever was in season locally, Harvest Table exists to bring the same to you. Their four-acre garden is just the beginning of their effort, as producers are painstakingly chosen based on their sustainability practices. At Harvest Table, everything is scratch-made (including the crackers and tortillas), and nothing is deep fried.
An exclusive experience is yours for the booking. On September 27, Chefs Phillip Newton and Bradley Griffin are offering an evening dinner with live music on the restaurant’s farm. The proceeds benefit Washington County’s 4-H program, a very worthy cause to further endeavors such as theirs. Purchase Tickets
Want an even deeper experience? Connect with Samantha Eubanks, farm manager, and she will set an appointment to give you a tour complete with food!
Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe
When you walk into Brassicas Farm Fresh Market & Cafe in Aldie, you know exactly where the food came from because those sources are proudly announced on the chalkboard. Some of what you’ll find includes pork products from Olli Salumeria in Mechanichsville (one of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2013), cheeses from Mountain View Farm in Fairfield, jams from The Essential Table in Winchester, krauts from Farmstead Ferments in Charlottesville, and produce from Valencia’s in Warsaw (as well as the restaurant’s backyard garden).
Want a few chickens for your own farm-fresh eggs? Last spring Brassicas offered Red Sex Links (aka Red Star, Isa Brown, and others), which are known to be excellent brown egg-layers and a great beginner bird for those new to the game.
Based on the complete dedication of sourcing local, seasonal foods, Brassicas operates from about early May to mid-December.
L’Auberge Provencale. Image by Jumping Rocks Pictures.
As with any good farm-to-table establishment, La Table Provençale at L’Auberge Provençale in Boyce offers a daily menu that highlights whatever is fresh and seasonal at the moment. Their extensive gardens and orchard complement the products of 17 regional farms, including cheese from Caromont Farms in Esmont, apple cider from Rinker’s Orchard in Stephens City, and a variety of meats from Ayrshire Farm in Upperville.
Keep an eye on things at La Table. They’ve been known to offer Farm to Field Wine Dinners, a very special soiree that is actually hosted in the field.
Roanoke’s Local Roots has been honored as one of the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America 2015 by OpenTable diners. Owner Diane Elliot says, “we’re all about real here,” so what you see on her menu is indeed, very real and very now.
The focus at Local Roots is on S.O.L.E. – Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical – sourcing of ingredients, which Elliot and her staff are able to do thanks to the network of local farmers. “We know where everything we serve comes from, who grew it and how.” For example, Everona Dairy in Rapidan provides a portion of the cheese product while Mountain Run Farm in Sedalia brings beef and pork to the table.
Watch for special “Meet the Farmers” dinner events where producers are on hand to discuss their practices, products, and to enjoy a meal with you.
Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve.
Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
A three-time James Beard Foundation nominee, Chef Cathal Armstrong runs his kitchen at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria with “gracious service, supreme ingredients and resolute focus,” which leads to “the best hand-fed, farm-raised, organically grown bounty Virginia and the surrounding countryside have to offer.”
Chef Armstrong’s seven course tasting menu is a three- to four-hour affair meant for true food devotees, and his green sausage (pork and mustard greens) was the food runner-up for Garden & Gun‘s 2014 Made in the South Awards. Ask your sommelier for a Todd Thrasher cocktail suggestion. Perhaps an “I Am Virginia,” which is Wasmund’s single-malt whisky, Madeira, local figs, and a garnish of dried Virginia ham; a great fall warmer.
Without a doubt, an evening dining experience at Restaurant Eve will be one of your most memorable. Enjoy it with someone special.
Rappahannock River Oyster Co. is one of Virginia’s leading oyster farms. The team behind RRO are also the driving force behind a few restaurants.
For an eat-where-they-grow opportunity, head to Merroir in Topping. Located on the banks of the Rappahannock River, the oysters are growing just yards away. In Richmond, Rappahannock was named 2014’s Best New Restaurant by Esquire Magazine. It’s there that those homegrown oysters are offered alongside entrées like Glen Allen-based Harmony Hill Farm chicken and Hanover Tomato soup.
Zynodoa. Photography by Sera Petras Photography.
Conveniently located off of Interstate 81 in Staunton, Zynodoa primarily sources its produce and meat from Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia farmers. In addition to the nearly 50 Virginia purveyors contributing to the food and drink menus at Zynodoa, the Goode family has their own 50-acre farm for egg production, vegetables, and fruits.
If you’re interested in seeing one of the farms from which Zynodoa sources its meat, try Polyface in Swoope. Self-guided and “lunatic” tours are available.
Find more delicious farm-to-table dining options at Virginia.org.