Fort Worth’s best farm-to-table restaurants commit to local flavor
One of the biggest trends in dining has been the "farm to table" movement, which proposes that what is being served on your plate is fresh from the garden — ideally a garden that's so close, it could be spied from your table.
Farm to table is considered an ideal way to eat, not only because the food is fresh and good, but also because it requires less shipping and processing, and reduces the impact on the environment.
Truthfully, unless your table is positioned in the middle of California's Central Valley where much of the produce grown for the United States, that ideal is hard to achieve. It's especially hard in Texas, where the growing season does not extend nearly as long.
Still, there are chefs and restaurants who make an effort to use local ingredients, and some purveyors who've risen to meet their needs.
Here are some of Fort Worth's most notable efforts:
The impeccable cafe at the Museum of Modern Art was farm-to-table almost before there was such a thing. With chef and Texas native Denise Shavandy at the helm, the cafe continues to cook from scratch, using whole grains, vegetables, cage-free eggs, and chickens and beef raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. The approach is to go seasonal and local whenever possible, whether it's Texas pecans or Latte Da Goat cheese.
Chef and Arlington native Marcus Paslay opened Clay Pigeon in 2014 as a place to champion local, organic, and fresh. His respect for ingredients leads him to make whatever he can in-house: from breads and ice creams, to butchering his own meat and fish, to making his own charcuterie. That bacon on the seared scallops, for example, is house-cured. No surprise, the menu changes frequently.
Ellerbe Fine Foods
Ellerbe owner Molly McCook is one of Fort Worth's most gifted chefs, and was an early adopter of the farm-to-table approach. She purchases produce, dairy, and meats from local partner farmers, using their ingredients to craft her ever-evolving seasonal menus. Her appreciation of vegetables extends to a special consideration for vegetarians, with a daily special entree such as stuffed portabella mushroom with spiced barley, wilted greens, and house-made hummus.
Local Foods Kitchen
Veteran chef and caterer Katie Schma recently launched this new farm-to-table restaurant in Fort Worth's Tanglewood Village, southwest of downtown. She offers an evolving menu of small-batch meals that changes monthly, including soups, salads, sweets, sandwiches, and home-comfort meals, made from local and regional, farm-raised ingredients. Schma is also owner of Star Gourmet Catering and was the founder of City Cafe in Dallas.
The latest creation from Fort Worth chef Lanny Lancarte is dedicated to healthy, high-quality food, with no preservatives, no processing, and organic and local whenever possible. Vegetables like spinach and okra are procured from area farmers; meats are from Niman Ranch. There are loads of vegetarian and vegan options, such as couscous with corn and red pepper, and a massive juice bar where everything's squeezed-to-order, right before your eyes.