Happy Earth Day! In honor of the 44th year of putting the green back into the globe, we present 10 restaurants with their own rooftop gardens. Diners can savor the super-freshly grown flavor just hours after these hyper-local fruits, vegetables, and herbs were harvested by restaurant staffers. While rooftop gardens cannot provide a restaurant with all of its produce (Yet!), the culinary pros at these restaurants find inspiration from and clever uses for everything they are able to sow.
1. The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis, Minnesota
It’s only fitting that a restaurant with farmer in its name have a microfarm on its roof. Located in a lovingly refurbished warehouse, the Bachelor Farmer team grows herbs and hearty greens on their first-of-its-kind Twin Cities rooftop garden. Relying on containers, they use a series of vessels for the plants they nurture, including blue kiddie pools. Serving Nordic cuisine, The Bachelor Farmer carefully sources additional produce from area farms. Its rooftop farm dates back to the restaurant’s opening in 2011.
2. Bastille Cafe & Bar, Seattle, Washington
Bastille restaurant has one of the most successful and copied rooftop gardens in the country. Growing an impressive 12-15% of the produce and herbs served at the eatery in 2,500 square feet of space, Jason Stoneburner shared that they find great success “with various heirloom varieties of radish, carrots, turnips and arugula. These staples grow apace and are easy to cultivate.We do experiment with lesser known greens, veggies and flowers such as spilanthes, shunkyo radish, curry plant, ice plant, anise hyssop and winter density romaine. Just to name a few.” Diners can tour the garden, which was installed in 2009, during the high season by appointment for $10, which includes a tasty Pimms Cup cocktail.
3. Cedar, Washington, D.C.
Atop Cedar in the nation’s capital, chef Aaron McCloud sows a healthy portion of the produce that diners at his ‘field and stream meets urban’ restaurant. He favors herbs, tomatoes, and squash, but he also grows and serves edible flowers, including marigolds. “Marigolds are really pretty, but they have this nice little aromatic bite that I think enhance a salad or a garnish — that works really well,” he said.
4. flour + water, San Francisco, California
As Thomas McNaughton, David White, and David Steele were putting pizza on the map in San Francisco, they were also raising the roof — with a garden. With just 450 square feet, they revealed that they are able to source 5 percent of flour + water’s produce from the garden. There is also a beehive, and the resulting honey finds its way into dishes as well. Sister restaurant Central Kitchen also boasts a rooftop garden, where artichokes, peas, young favas, foraged greens and herbs are grown.
5. Fountain at The Four Seasons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Even the folks at the swanky Four Seasons aren’t immune to the charms of digging in the dirt. These early-adopters added a rooftop garden in 2009. Eight stories above the city, in nine raised beds, Fountain staffers grow herbs, peas, bok choi, peppers, and more, all of which find their way into the dishes served at the restaurant. The green doesn’t end there, tho’. The Four Seasons also composts 128 tons annually of leftovers (off-site) and uses the end product to fertilize the beds and the grounds of the hotel.
6. Noble Rot, Portland, Oregon
Their website proclaims, “The garden is the soul at Noble Rot in Portland.” Even with that noble and fuzzy statement, though, these horticultural-culinary mad scientists take a rather mercenary approach to their garden. That which does not thrive does not stick around for long. And, as they continue to tinker with what they sow, they do the same with their systems, learning as they grow (or not). A whopping 3,000 square-feet, irrigated by an aquifer beneath the building, the garden provides menu items almost year-round (indicated in capital letters on the Noble Rot menu). There are free garden tours on Tuesdays at 5:00PM.
7. North End Grill, New York, New York
Long before he stepped onto the roof at North End Grill, chef Floyd Cardoz was an accomplished gardener at his home. The 1,000 square foot microfarm that sits 17 stories above North End Grill, with its sweeping views of the Hudson and Lady Liberty, has allowed him to combine his passions for growing and cooking food. Sowing everything from beets and greens to squash blossoms, cucumbers, and tomatoes, chef Cardoz encourages guests to inquire which ingredients were sourced from the roof. He is also a master of extending the seasons by preserving their bounty, thus many of Cardoz’s dishes likely contain rooftop-grown ingredients year round.
8. Park 75, Atlanta, Georgia
The Terrace Garden provides Park 75’s dishes with lemon verbena, basil, oregano, garnishes of vine-ripened tomatoes, rare peppers, or edible flowers, as well as hydroponically grown lettuce and radishes. The garden’s beehives produced 200 pounds of honey last year. On the volume of produce harvested from the Terrace Garden, sous chef Matt Valdez revealed, “We fully utilize the garden, specifically for our chef’s tasting menu. It is hard to put something we’re growing on the menu because we may not have enough, but with the chef’s tasting we have a creative outlet and get our inspiration based on what looks good for the day.”
9. Post & Beam, Los Angeles, California
The rooftop garden at Post & Beam is manned by chef Govind Armstrong and his kitchen staff. Serving a Southern-inspired menu, they have grown everything from greens and herbs to Peacock and Blue kales, Rosa Blanca eggplant, heirloom squash, tomatoes, and Padron peppers. Chef Armstrong is an advocate of South Central Farmers Cooperative. He said, “Our whole menu is comprised of local, seasonal ingredients so we’ll be relying on the co-op for most everything that we can’t grow in our garden.” Don’t miss the garden pizza of the day, which features ingredients pulled from Post & Beam’s garden beds.
10. TAMO at the Seaport Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
Executive Chef Richard Rayment has long been involved in overseeing produce and herbs that are grown for his restaurant, but in recent years, he has been able to bring that to his grounds, if not yet his roof. He worked with Green City Growers to bring an urban garden to the Seaport and they have, like other restaurants, found success by concentrating on raising herbs, such as bronze fennel, purble basil, garlic chives, and more. Robert Tobin, the chef at TAMO, and Rayment both agree on the big value that comes from a small garden servicing a 500-seat venue. “We have good cooks who think herbs and vegetables grow in plastic bags. A garden that we use daily keeps all of us in the kitchen connected to the value of food,” said Rayment.
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