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.