Farm to Table Restaurants
May 29, 2014 10:59AM
By By Robin Shreeves
Buying at farmers’ markets, farm stands or those roadside sellers that dot the back roads on the way to the shore and at beverage tasting rooms support the region’s farmers and blossoming wine, beer and spirits industry.
There’s an additional way to support these food and beverage producers while also giving a boost to the local economy as a whole. When dining out, choosing independent restaurants that buy from local producers doubles the good that your money does to the region’s economy.
A recent study by Civic Economics found that nationally owned chain restaurants put 34.5 percent of their revenue back into the local economy. Locally owned, independent restaurants put significantly more of their revenue, 65.4 percent, back into their communities. Not all of them source from local producers but making a point to dine at those that do can help the local economy in general and also specific regional food and beverage producers.
More and more independent restaurants in our area are choosing to obtain fruits and vegetables from local farms, meats from regional providers and wines and beers from New Jersey producers. Here are just a few to choose from next time you go out to eat.
High Street Grill
Known for its active involvement in the community, High Street Grill uses foods from local farms when possible and gets much of its seasonal foods from Hlubick Farms, in Chesterfield. High Street takes pride in highlighting fresh, local foods and beverages every day on its seasonally changing menu, but the restaurant also conducts special events throughout the year that focus even tighter on what New Jersey has to offer. It has done specific farm dinners; patrons should be on the lookout for possible events this summer. The restaurant also puts on an annual Winter Beer Fest that adds more and more New Jersey craft beers yearly. About a quarter of the beers at the festival are now from the state. (64 High Street, Mount Holly, 609-265- 9199.)
The Vincentown Diner combines two New Jersey favorites— the classic diner with great locally produced foods. The high-volume restaurant uses fruits and vegetables from local farms when possible frequently from Russo’s Fruit and Vegetable Farm, in Tabernacle. The burgers, served on locally baked buns, are made with New Jersey, grass-fed beef when available. A milkshake made with regional Trickling Springs ice cream is the perfect accompaniment. Served all-day long, eggs are organic and raised regionally. Even the wines and beers are local. Currently, they serve wines only from Valenzano Winery, in Shamong, and DiMatteo Vineyards, in Hammonton. Beers come from regional breweries, too. (Corner of routes 206 & 38, near Vincentown, 609-267-3033, VincentownDiner.com.)
Farm and Fisherman Tavern & Market
Attracting a loyal following of diners and shoppers that are committed to local ingredients and products, visitors find a restaurant and bar that sources local foods, like produce from Cherry Hill’s Springdale Farm, and pours only regional beers from the taps, like Somerdale’s Flying Fish. You’ll also find a market where you can purchase locally sourced farm fresh eggs, homemade scrapple, cheese from local dairy farms like Cherry Grove Farms, in Lawrenceville, coffee from regional roasters, craft beer, local artisan chocolates and much more. Also, the kids have their own healthy menu with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies as sides. (1442 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, 856-356-2282. FAndFTavern.com.)
The Tortilla Press
Head to the Collingswood Farmers’ Market any Saturday and the staff from Tortilla Press will serve a made-to-order quesadilla that’s filled with seasonal produce bought that morning at the market. This Mexican- influenced restaurant’s support of local producers doesn’t stop at its farmers’ market table. At the Collingswood location (and at The Tortilla Press Cantina, in Pennsauken), local, seasonal produce is used whenever possible. Recently, The Tortilla Press, along with Bistro Di Marino—another Collingswood restaurant—said it would be selling wines by the bottle and half bottle from Sharrott Winery, in Winslow Township, making them the only two restaurants in the otherwise BYOB town to offer New Jersey wines. (703 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, TheTortillaPress.com.)
This Modern Italian restaurant aims to give guests exceptional service while also using the finest local ingredients. Seasonal fruits and vegetables come from local farms like Duffield’s Farm, in Sewell. Meats come from regional sources like Indian Ridge Provisions in Pennsylvania. The restaurant sells local wines by the bottle and half from Auburn Road Vineyard and Winery, in Pilesgrove, or diners can bring their own. (373 Egg Harbor Road, Sewell, 856-589-0475, ArugulaRestaurant.net.)
Casual breakfast and lunch are served during the day at this restaurant that focuses on American cuisine; but at night, Blueplate turns into a fine dining restaurant. A 2013 Nature Conservancy reader opinion poll named it New Jersey’s top sustainable restaurant for its focus on “local, seasonal and sustainable food.” Bluepate is a BYOB restaurant, but diners can also purchase bottles of wine from Wagonhouse Winery, in Swedesboro. (47 S. Main Street, Mullica Hill. 856-478- 2112, BlueplateNJ.com/index.htm.)
There are many other restaurants in the region that also do their part in supporting our local producers, and each mid-July dozens of them participate in the South Jersey Hot Chefs Farm to Fork Restaurant Week (SJHotChefs.com). Participating restaurants partner with local farms to serve four-course lunches and dinners at special prices while the bounty of the Garden State takes front and center. Diners get creatively prepared meals made with the freshest of ingredients and the region as a whole gets an economic boost.