I’m an avid user and reviewer of Yelp, so I decided to highlight some of my reviews of organic, local, and sustainable eats in NYC and Brooklyn. This is by no means comprehensive though! On my to-do list: The Good Fork, ABC Restaurant, Xoom, and so. many. others. Good sustainable food is everywhere, you just need to know where to look!
As a huge local food fan, I’m always excited to hear about a restaurant with a relationship with the farmers. You won’t see a Cisco food truck outside of this place. Every dish is lovingly crafted from artisinal cheeses, locally-grown produce, and delicious humanly raised meats. It makes it all the better than the owner, Carlos Suarez, quit finance (“a lack of values” he said) to open this restaurant.
We arrived just a few minutes later for our 7:45 reservation, and an older gentleman led us up the painted wood stairs lined with flickering candles to a romantic dining room. The handcrafted quality of the restaurant shines through even in the decor. Fashioned from what was obviously a townhouse at some point, the dining room is romantically lit, with bookshelves stocked with old tomes, heavy draperies, and candles everywhere.
We hit a hiccup when our waiter forgot to provide us with a wine list, but he apologized when he realized 10 minutes later and was quickly back to take our order of an artisinal and biodynamic malbec. There was also a short list of cocktails, bottled and draft beers, and aperitifs. I hardly noticed the less than stellar service because he was so friendly, and even made me laugh a few times.
We provided the waiter with a coupon from Blackboard eats, and received in return a plate of fig leaf wraps with brown rice and a sweet sauce, and three “shooters” of pepper and zucchini infused non-alcoholic drink. They have a long list of canapes that comes in singles for about $3 a piece, so you can mix and match.
The star of the night was the duck breast with chorizo that my boyfriend ordered – it was an eyes-rolling-back-my-head moment. My brook trout wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, unfortunately. And at one point I had to pull a small bone out of my mouth. Yuck.
However, you must order something from the dessert menu. We had a trio of ice cream sandwich sliders: gingerbread-oatmeal-raisin cookies with a mildly fruity ice cream, chocolate with what I think was a cookies and cream ice cream, and and a classic chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. We made a huge mess, but since they put down paper on the tables instead of white cloth, I didn’t feel so bad.
As we left we noticed that the downstairs bar was booming. And it looks like you can order some food at the stand up tables by the window as well.
A word on the prices – they are very reasonable. I was suprised that the bill wasn’t more, given that we ordered so much, and the quality of the restaurant. Add in the fact that all ingredients are local and organic, well it’s practically a steal. I’m not saying it’s cheap, but the value is definitely there.
All in all I would definitely come back here, but it hasn’t quite made my list of favorites.
The Farm on Adderley
Oh man does my boyfriend know me well. I’m a huge local/organic/sustainable food buff, and at his suggestion we came to The Farm on Adderly for a casual after work dinner.
We ate inside, since there was a short wait for the garden out back. The tables are well spaced so you aren’t elbowing your neighbor, and the whole space has a cozy feel.
When the waiter (friendly, knowledgeable, and prompt) described their steak special of the night, I wondered to myself if the meat was grass-fed or local. Imagine my delight when I spied the footnote on the menu: “All the meat on the menu has been sourced locally, is pasture-raised and humanely cared for.” Score!
The menu itself is short and sweet, with an assortment of cheeses, not more than five salads, and some entrees. But the beer and wine menu looked extensive. We ordered cocktails – he got the cucumber lemonade and I ordered the grapefruit Blue Ridge Parkway (a reference to a scenic drive through the Appalachians.)
For non-alcoholic beverages, they had some interesting choices, including Fentiman’s Brewed Cola, Zico Coconut Water, Fever Tree Tonic, and even homemade kombucha. This place is a hippie paradise. At the bottom, as if they are ashamed to admit it, there is diet coke too.
I ordered the special, which was… hmmm… what did they call it… a crepette I think? It was a meat dish with tripe. The waiter was nice enough to warn me about the tripe, but really, you can’t even tell it’s there. It wasn’t the best meat dish I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t bad either, and was very filling.
My bf ordered the butcher’s meatballs, which he reported being quite satisfied with. We took a glance at the dessert menu, just to see what was on there. Mistake. I had to shove it away so I wouldn’t be tempted by all the delicious confections on there, including banana chocolate upside down cake. Another time, for sure.
Bonus, go a few doors down to Sycamore for a follow-up drink in their garden. It’s equally enjoyable.
Community Food & Juice
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights
I had heard such wonderful things about this place, and after coming here both for dinner and brunch, I’ve gotten a 360 view.
They have a wonderful selection of organic and local beers to start off with. I didn’t try the cocktails, but they were tempting, to say the least. In fact, they have a lot of local and sustainable fair on the menu, which is always very nice.
I had a delicious salmon and fried potato salad over a bed of parsley, which just blew my mind. I’m not a huge salad person, but I left feeling very full.
I came here a few days later for brunch. We managed to snag a table in the shade outside (the wait for an indoor table looked long) but not all tables are shaded, so watch out on a hot summer day.
We saw several B.E.L.T.s walk by (bacon lettuce tomato and egg on sourdough, yum!) But I opted for a more traditional house-made apple sausage and eggs with carrot hashbrowns. Filling and delicious. My friend had the blueberry pancakes, which came with a syrup that tasted like brown sugar and butter. So decadent, and so good!
The service was great both times. The waiters quickly came by, and so did our food. I will be eating here whenever I get the chance!
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
My friend and I were lured here by the promise of organic and biodynamic wines. The menu was full of organic wines by the glass as promised, but I had a hard time ferreting out a biodynamic wine. Too bad. If you are looking for an extensive wine list, you’ve got it here. It goes on for pages and pages.
I know this might not matter, but I noticed the menus are cheap photo albums with printed paper slid into the plastic pockets. Small things like that really factor into my experience. That, along with the unfinished awning out front, gave me the feeling that they weren’t quite finished putting the place together.
The food (all meant to be shared) was delicious, and the service good. We ordered the organic veal meatballs and asparagus and peas risotto. I could have licked the plate!
My one big complaint was the tight space. It was a crowded Thursday night, so we sat at a high communal table with five others. In order to leave, everyone on one side of the table had to climb down from their stool to let the person pass.
It was super loud in there, but my friend and I had to strike a careful balance between speaking loud enough to here each other, and not offending our neighbors, who we knocked elbows with the whole meal.
I’ll probably go back for a casual glass of wine and some plates with a friend since it’s in my ‘hood, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a romantic date, and I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
The Castello Plan
I am so happy this is right around the corner from my boyfriend’s place, because we both agree we’ll be going back soon!When the sommelier came over, he inquired after my preferences, and then went to get three bottles and three glasses. “I think I’ll taste some with you,” he told us.
Each glass he would give an abbreviated, broad description, (“full, fruity, bold) which was nice because it’s a proven scientific fact that you cannot detect five different notes in every wine, no matter how romantic it sounds. Then while my boyfriend and I followed protocol (swirl, smell, taste) he would knock it back like a frat boy taking a shot. We suspected he might be drunk, or maybe he didn’t even work there and was just hanging out. Doesn’t matter because we were super happy with the wine he helped us choose. He also pointed at the Brooklyn borough president who was schmoozing at a nearby table.
When our friends joined us, we ordered two appetizer plates, and an assortment of cheeses and prosciutto. The wooden platter of prosciutto and cheeses was amazing, but the duck really took the award for the night. I’ve never had such a sumptuous mouth-feel before. We tasted our friends’ sweet potato dish, it was hard to refrain from stealing their plate and eating the rest! Dessert was amazing too: bite-sized chocolate tulips. I would give you a fuller description, but by this point my faculties were severely impaired.
I also liked their presentation: vintage-looking silver and raw cut wood platters. We all had such a great time, I couldn’t imagine a nicer night.
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
As far as smoothie places go, this is the best.My reasons? Voila:
1. They use fresh, local-when-possible, organic ingredients.
2. They have delicious smoothies with ingredients like acai, goji berry, ginger, or just your regular strawberries and banana, plus boosters.
3. They use recycled plastic cups that – unlike Jamba Juice’s – don’t leach chemicals into your yummy smoothie.
4. Their sandwiches are fresh-made, and delicious, especially when grilled and cheesy-melty.
5. If you need a snack, they have crazy healthy raw food bars, trail mix, and protein muffins.
6. The people who work there are always friendly and helpful. They deserve all the tips they get and more!
7. In the winter, you can get a hot drink like their cold-busting ginger and orange juice drink. Peps you right up.
8. Everything always looks hyper-sterilized and organized.
This place costs me seven extra blocks of walking before work, but it’s totally worth it. I love starting my day with a smoothie or (if I’m hungover) a muffin.