Farm-to-table business models allow customers to enjoy meals created with locally sourced, fresh ingredients. While in the strictest sense of the term, farm-to-table eating happens on a farm itself, farm-to-table, farm-to-fork and even farm-to-school or –hospital movements focus on serving food from farms in the nearby vicinity of the kitchen, often within a 100 mile radius.
Sometimes, nearby breweries, vineyards, ranches or fisheries are also included in this local food movement in which the middle-man is largely taken out of the equation. “Farmers benefit by being able to reap more of the profit their goods can earn at market, and many enjoy knowing how their food will be treated and cooked,” explained The Spruce. Businesses that purchase from local farms know that their seasonal produce and other goods have not been frozen and/or stored in long transit and will arrive fresh and ready to use.
There are many restaurants in D.C. that have embraced and experimented with this model. Here are three of note:
Farmers Fishers Bakers / the Farmers Restaurant Group
Farmers Restaurant Group (FRG) runs a collection of restaurants owned by American Family Farmers. Their Founding Farmers restaurant, which opened in 2008, is well-known and quite popular—their website states that they have served more than 1 million guests since then. The sister restaurants to Founding Farmers include MoCo’s Founding Farmers, Founding Farmers Tysons, Farmers & Distillers and right on The Washington Harbour in Georgetown, Farmers Fishers Bakers.
Farmers Fishers Bakers offers a sumptuous menu with diverse American options and year-round water views from their patio. They have their own bakery and produce over 100,000 loaves annually. They also press juice, grind beef, churn butter and run a sushi counter. They source their ingredients seasonally and regionally and notable menu choices include mussel pots, jambalayas, fisher’s catch and share plates.
Executive Chef Joe Goetze developed their menus to promote “comfortable, eat-what-you-want-at-your-pace dining, where friends are welcome, and group sharing is encouraged.” This restaurant is owned by the family farmers of North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU). It is located at 3000 K Street NW, a short walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station.
Firefly, found at Dupont Circle’s Hotel Madera, has an earthly and indulgent vibe. The giant tree trunk that anchors the center of the restaurant and the salvaged barn-wood tables are as visually pleasing as the bespoke comfort food. Familiar dishes such as pot roast, crab cakes and veggie lasagna are given a boost of local flavor and expert preparation by Chef Jammir Gray. Wine, cocktail and beer aficionados are also well cared for here and Firefly’s seasonal brewer’s dinners focus on local craft beers. The Firefly space and cuisine are also popular for private dining and larger events. Visit Firefly at Kimpton Madera, 1310 New Hampshire Ave., NW.
Equinox offers an upscale, hyperlocal take on the farm-to-table genre. Chef Todd Gray, a proponent and gifted creator of seasonal and sustainable dishes, presents American cuisine with European sensibility and techniques. The setting is posh but welcoming and the Eastern Sea Board-inspired dishes are “crafted in accordance with the earth’s natural rhythms.” The kitchen focuses on using organic ingredients sourced in the local community within a 100-mile radius. For example, a few seasonal market specials from their spring dinner menu include, “Early Spring Arugula Salad with Smoked Trout” and, “Raviolo with Soft-Poached Farm Egg.”
This restaurant, which opened in 1999, is within a few blocks of the White House at 818 Connecticut Ave., NW. During the Obama era, owners Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray helped to launch the “Chefs Move to Schools” movement with First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chef and Senior Policy Adviser Sam Kass. This couple keeps it local in their habitation as well; they live near the restaurant with their son and often ride their bikes to work.
Farm-to-table restaurants provide farmers with known, direct, grateful outlets for the goods they have toiled over and provide chefs and hungry guests with fresh, high-quality, locally-sourced, delicious meals. A few other local options to check out include DC Harvest, Ripple and Big Bear Café.