Roof to Table: 10 Rooftop Restaurant Gardens

Bachelor-Farmer-RooftopHappy 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.

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The Cultivated Plate Visits Guy Reuge and Mirabelle’s Cultivated Kitchen Garden

OpenTable’s weekly feature The Cultivated Plate, in which we check in with chefs and restaurateurs about how and from where they source their ingredients, continues with chef Guy Reuge of Mirabelle in Stony Brook, New York.

Sourcing ingredients isn’t terribly challenging for Mirabelle. With a bevy of local farms on Long Island’s east end, chef Reuge and his staff have easy access to some of New York’s finest local ingredients. However, they wanted to take local a step further and have installed a kitchen garden on the grounds. Not yet big enough to provide all the sourcing (and it may never be for this very popular restaurant), the garden’s ingredients, particularly the bevy of herbs, show up in many dishes and cocktails.

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Best Restaurants for American Cuisine: OpenTable 2010 Diners’ Choice Winners

Best-American-Restaurants-2010Independence Day is just around the corner, the time of year when we celebrate everything that’s great about our nation. Since those celebrations typically involve food, we’re patriotically pleased to announce the 50 restaurant winners of OpenTable’s 2010 Diners’ Choice Awards for Best American Restaurants. Derived from 5,000,000+ reviews submitted by OpenTable diners of more than 11,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list honors the restaurants that serve up a slice of the best of American cuisine at every meal.

The winners, which include A Toute Heure in New Jersey, Kansas City’s Bluestem, The French Laundry in Yountville, Manhattan’s Gramercy Tavern and Per Se, Tilth in Seattle, VOLT in Maryland, and many others, have honored our roots as a farming nation by helping renew interest in local sourcing and heritage techniques, including butchering, curing and smoking meats, canning, pickling, and preserving — as well as continuing to innovate in their kitchens.

Use this list to connect with the country’s rich culinary history and delicious future throughout the coming seasons.