Faun, Another Brooklyn Farm-to-Table Restaurant

Brooklyn, Brooklyn. The farm-to-table gift that keeps giving. The list of charming, neighborhood restaurants serving solid seasonal classics in a nice outdoor courtyard keeps growing. The newest addition is Faun in Prospect Park, run by the former executive chef of Vinegar Hill House. The menu is very edited and skews mostly Italian, but it’s a little more cerebral than your typical tagliatelle and wood-fire oven pizza. There are exotic pastas like quadrucci and mezze maniche that I have never heard of making their debuts here. And meats are a little more wild and adventurous, things like squab and boar are roasting and braising in the nearby kitchen. Maybe that’s how the name Faun plays in. The restaurant is in a familiar neck of the woods, but the food that pops out is a little more interesting and unusual like the mythical creature itself.

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tripe, ‘nduja, parmesan, poached egg

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Battersby

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Battersby is one of those esteemed Brooklyn institutions like Franny’s and Al Di La that everyone should go to at some point. It’s now overshadowed by newer and trendier Brooklyn restaurants like Lilia, Maison Premiere or Roberta’s, but this classic has staying power. Over the summer, some of our friends moved to Cobble Hill, which gave us an excuse to finally try Battersby. We called ahead, expecting some sort of egregious wait, but it was only about half an hour for a table outside. I suppose the crowds were a little thin due to the summer holidays and the fact that this restaurant’s moment had passed, but in my opinion, all those chasing the next big thing were missing out.

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Olmsted, Farm-to-Table Brooklyn

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carrot crepe with little neck clams and sunflower

Farm-to-table Brooklyn is such an overdone trend that when yet another new restaurant bills itself as such it seems like a joke. There’s only so many ways you can prepare a locally sourced carrot, I would think, but I was proven wrong when I had dinner at Olmsted, a Brooklyn restaurant recently opened by a former alum of Alinea and Blue Hill. The best carrot I’ve had in my life came on a plate from this restaurant, in the form of a carrot crepe with little neck clams and sunflower. Carrot, that humble root that seems to make its way into many juice cleanses, suddenly became a pivotal anchor in an open-faced ravioli-like dish that will without a doubt make a debut on some sort of “best-of” list in the near future.Read More

48 Hours in Cabo: Flora Farm

My favorite meal in Cabo was lunch at Flora Farm, a beautiful farm-to-table restaurant that reminded me of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It’s crazy that in the middle of the desert there exists this lush oasis of arable land. Somehow Patrick and Gloria Greene, the owners of the restaurant and the estate, managed to pull off this feat of transforming the dry earth into a fertile farm.

It is a bit of drive to get out here, and a somewhat turbulent one at that. Our rental car struggled a bit to get over the unpaved roads and hills that eventually led to Flora Farm. You can also take a cab out here, although that can get expensive, especially if you’re coming in from the opposite direction of Cabo San Lucas. We were pretty relieved that we were driving in broad daylight, which gave us the visibility to dodge a few potholes and make it to the restaurant in one piece.

fertile fields

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The journey is well worth it. The restaurant grounds are so pretty, with Instagram-worthy shots at every turn and corner. My favorite parts were seeing the turtle pond and the small farmer’s market set up towards the back of the restaurant. It’s pretty amazing seeing all these crops growing right next to you, and knowing that they will arrive on your plate in a matter of minutes.

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the produce for sale at flora grocery
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the prettiest green onions you’ll ever see
some wine with lunch? yes, please
some wine with lunch? yes, please

Fresh, local and organic produce just tastes so much better than anything you can get in your grocery store. Eating a salad is never all that exciting, let’s be honest, and the lettuce is probably the least exciting part, but when I ate the chicken salad, I was floored by how good the bibb lettuce was. I could eat a salad like this everyday and not get tired of it.

chicken salad
chicken salad

I felt the same way about the other items in my Simple Farm Lunch set. My eggplant soup was beautifully pureed, creamy and delicious without being heavy, and with just enough hint of curried spice to make it interesting without overwhelming. Ruoxi’s gazpacho soup was light and refreshing, a little sweet and without the overpowering flavor of cucumber that taint too many gazpacho soups. The house made walnut and olive bread was served with a dreamy butter that was to die for. This lunch may have been simple and straightforward, but it wore its simplicity so well.

gazpacho soup
gazpacho soup
eggplant soup
eggplant soup
herb sausage with lentils and farm egg
herb sausage with lentils and farm egg


Flora Farm
San José Del Cabo-La Paz
23407 San José del Cabo
B.C.S., Mexico
+52 624 355 4564
http://www.flora-farms.com/

Feel the Warmth of Italian American Cooking at Hearth

courtesy of Hearth restaurant.
courtesy of Hearth restaurant.

A restaurant like Hearth is a little out of character in the East Village. Dining here is very homey and comfortable in a classic sort of way. Waiters are attentive, seating is spacious and the menu features modern yet familiar takes on Italian American favorites. This is quite unlike the scrappy rebellious startups like Momofuku or Bohemian that predominate the neighborhood. Because Hearth is so uncharacteristically traditional, it tends to get overshadowed by its flashier and quirkier neighbors, who have more appeal to the younger hipster crowd. I’ve been guilty of this bias, and there have been multiple times where I wrote off a reservation at Hearth because it lacked the “it” factor. The restaurant is underrated and totally undeserving of being so.Read More