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And you thought you knew farm-to-table…

These three new downtown New York restaurants are shaking off the farm-to-table cliche with global influences, their own farms, and, well, ramp martinis.
Chalk Point tomato salad
Chalk Point Kitchen’s Market Heirloom Tomatoes and Lioni’s Old Fashioned Ricotta Plate (Photo: Anthony Foti)

Farm-to-table cuisine has become so ubiquitous in New York, it’s practically the norm at any restaurant trying to attract a well-heeled clientele—which is pretty awesome news for your health, farmers, and the environment.

But it also makes it hard to distinguish one spot serving organic heirloom tomatoes and grass-fed Hudson Valley-sourced beef from another (and makes for amazing Portlandia sketch fodder, i.e. “Did the chicken have friends?”).

“Farm-to-table is so overly used these days,” says Chalk Point Kitchen executive chef Joe Isidori, who formerly worked as executive chef to Donald Trump, at Michelin-starred DJT, and opened Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton. To shake things up, he’s tapping the global flavors and influences of New York’s markets.

And he’s not alone. Others are stepping up with their very own farm. Or serving cocktails by vegetable (ramp martini?!). Here, we introduce you to three brand-new restaurants that are making farm-to-table fresh again.

Fresh Chickpea Falafel at Chalk Point Kitchen (Photo Credit: Anthony Foti)
Fresh Chickpea Falafel at Chalk Point Kitchen (Photo: Anthony Foti)

Chalk Point Kitchen, Soho

Chalk Point is the latest venture from restauranteur Matt Levine, the brains behind other trendy downtown spots like Sons of Essex and Cocktail Bodega. The dining room feels like farmhouse meets Anthropologie meets Brooklyn hipster bar, and the menu reflects a similar sense of eclectic simplicity.

“First, a chef is taught to cook what’s in your backyard,” says Isidori, a native New Yorker and third generation chef. “What’s in my backyard? I have Chinatown, Korean, and Japanese markets. I’m still doing the whole seasonal, local, sustainable thing, but combining it with an edge that comes from the ethnic markets of New York City.”

Think Chinatown Style Greens and Montauk Pearl Oysters served with toasted curry and sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit). There are many veggie options and even more (sustainable) seafood dishes.

Heirloom Carrots at Apres (Photo: Apres)
Heirloom Carrots at Apres (Photo: Apres)

Aprés, East Village

Farm-to-table sometimes equals (local) pork glut on the menu, but veggies are given the real star power at Aprés, the restaurant that just opened in the former Apiary space on Third Avenue. Executive chef Mazen Mustafa (formerly at The Elm) taps New York’s markets and global influences, too, but then adds an artistic flair to each plate. So crisp asparagus, heirloom carrots, and roasted romaine take on a serious air of elegance (and deliciousness). And you can choose from a reasonably priced four-course tasting menu ($58) or order a la carte.

Not to mention a cocktail menu that allows you to order your drink by preferred vegetable—ramp, rhubarb, celery, red bell pepper, and more.

The space itself feels slightly unadorned and quiet and formal for the neighborhood, but in a scene full of loud music and exposed brick, that may prove appealing to some.

Blenheim's Spring Peasin a Broth with seaweeds, fennel, and mint. (Photo Credit: Signe Birck)
Blenheim’s Spring Peasin a Broth with seaweeds, fennel, and mint. (Photo: Signe Birck)

Blenheim, West Village

You could call this new restaurant “its-own-farm-to-table,” since it was literally conceived to share the bounty of the Catskills’ Bleinheim Hill Farm with New Yorkers. Smörgås Chef Restaurant Group owners Morten Sohlberg and Min Ye own both (the farm and now the restaurant, that is).

“Our new restaurant is entirely based on the ever changing notes of nature and there is beautiful interplay between the farm and restaurant,” says Morten.

They hired Justin Hillbert, formerly of Gwynnett St. and wd~50, as executive chef, and he’s serving a la carte dishes alongside a five-course tasting menu that changes daily depending on the harvest. Perhaps you’ll enjoy fiddlehead ferns with goats butter and roasted lemon or artichokes with crab imperial and arugula. All in an environment reminiscent of its upstate source, with glass barn doors and farm tools handing from the walls. —Lisa Elaine Held