Farm-to-table restaurants don’t need to go the extra mile to stock their kitchens. Many grow or raise much of what they serve on their own farms and get anything else they need from local purveyors who share their eco ethos. Choose any of these locations to savor the bounty of the land at its peak quality and freshness.
1. Front and Main, Waterville
Housed on the Lockwood Hotel’s ground floor, this clean-lined, natural-light-filled restaurant shows off artistic creations by Maine-based makers, thanks to curation by the nearby Colby College Museum of Art (the college helped develop the hotel). These include wood reliefs by Bernard Langlais and photos of Jeremy Frey’s Wabanaki basket weavings.
Chef Jesse Souza’s menu celebrates Maine-centric cuisine combined with an infusion of Latin American and Asian flavors. For example, roasted cod is prepared tandoori-style, paired with cauliflower and potato masala along with a date-tamarind chutney. Beef short ribs are glazed with a sweet-and-sour ginger sauce and are accompanied by roasted peanut salsa, green papaya salad, and cilantro rice.
The menu is hyper-local, says Souza, who adds he’s “committed to developing strong relationships with local purveyors,” which include the fishermen at Harbor Fish Market for seafood and Maine Grains for freshly milled, organic, and heritage grains grown in the region. 9 Main Street. (207) 660-0130.
2. Primo, Rockland
Chef-owner Melissa Kelly, a 2-time James Beard Foundation award winner, creates Mediterranean-inspired dishes using Maine-focused ingredients—including more than 2 dozen heirloom tomatoes—mostly from her organic gardens and sustainable farm. She even raises bees for honey.
Primo’s restored, late-19th-century farmhouse is snuggled into a bucolic hilltop property. Seating options include the 2 original parlor rooms on the ground floor, the more casual and contemporary Counter Room and Bar upstairs, and a porch with fine sunset views over Penobscot Bay.
The dynamic menu may include house-cured pork belly served alongside a fried quail egg atop a hash brown waffle, or hand-rolled cavatelli pasta paired with wild mushrooms and sherried chicken.
Kelly has a deep respect for the land and the environment. She raises heritage pigs and poultry and works with fishmongers and other purveyors who share her sustainability ethics. “Farm-to-table is important because it’s seasonal to the moment, fresh, local, and clean,” she says. “And it supports our local economy.” Hours vary seasonally. 2 Main Street. (207) 596-0770.
3. Greenleaf, Milford
Chef-owner Chris Viaud’s seasonally-inspired restaurant is in an 1865-era bank—one of the vaults even serves as a small dining room. Original blueprints of the building’s renovation from the early 1900s and abstracts of New England’s seasons painted by one of Viaud’s cousins adorn the walls.
A James Beard Emerging Chef semifinalist, Viaud displays his talent through refined techniques and colorful plating of sophisticated American fare. The menu offers some surprising takes on the classics, including parsnip soup spiced with ginger, coconut, and chili oil; and crispy-skin chicken paired with bread pudding and fiddleheads.
Viaud’s wife, Emilee, is the executive pastry chef. Her equally creative desserts—a yuzu vanilla cake is unexpectedly flavored with Meyer lemon curd, rhubarb puree, and cardamom—resemble delicate works of art.
A connection with local farmers and purveyors such as Dunk’s Mushrooms and Julie’s Happy Hens is key when Viaud designs the menu. “I know that we are receiving the best-quality ingredients that are grown by those who care about their products.” Closed Sundays. 54 Nashua Street. (603) 213-5447.
4. Thompson House Eatery, Jackson
Residing in the renovated 200-year-old farmhouse that houses their restaurant, married co-owners Kate and Jeffrey Fournier are devoted to a sustainable lifestyle. “It’s a way to make sure that our little corner of the world has done its part,” says Kate. Doing as much green farming as possible, they grow more than 100 different items. They also patronize other purveyors of meats, poultry, and fish who share their eco sensibilities.
The restaurant makes almost everything else in-house, from ice cream and pastries to pasta, cheese, bread, and even whole-grain mustard, and the menu changes often. Jeff, who is also the chef and a 2-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist, is dedicated to the sensory profile of each dish. For example, his halibut crudo blends citrus from limes with the heat of sliced jalapeños.
Decorated with a set of vintage post boxes and a 40-plus-year-old sign from the original Thompson House Eatery, the sun-filled, contemporary dining room radiates rustic charm. In balmy weather, patrons can dine near a wall of lilac bushes and an apple tree on the outdoor deck. Note: 7% “property and infrastructure” fee on each bill. Closed Sundays–Tuesdays. 193 Main Street. (603) 383-9341.
5. Michael’s on the Hill, Waterbury Center
Ringed by lawns, perennial and edible flower gardens, wild apple orchards, and forests of maple and pine, Michael’s is officially designated one of Vermont’s “Green Restaurants,” owing to its commitment to environmental stewardship. Co-owner and chef Michael Kloeti formed his sustainability ethos in the small Swiss town of his birth. “Support your neighbor, eat local, use what you need, respect the animals and the Earth,” he says.
Michael and his wife, Laura, source as many local and organic food products as possible from some 30 farms, including Jericho Settlers and Naked Acre farms. They also grow myriad fruits, veggies, and herbs—such as lemon verbena and rhubarb for a lemon panna cotta served with a rhubarb-ginger compote.
Their main menu changes seasonally, focusing on comfort food. (Think country-fried quail with vegetable slaw, and a classic French lamb stew served with garlic confit polenta.)
Design details in the 3 indoor dining spaces (the Barn Dining Room, the Clock Room, and the Porch, all circa 1820) reflect a melding of agrarian, Swiss, and Vermont craft-maker sensibilities: Old farm machinery molds and framed Swiss woodblock prints line the walls; handcrafted bowls fashioned by a local potter hold marinated olives on the tables. Closed Tuesdays. 4182 Waterbury-Stowe Road. (802) 244-7476.
6. Cloudland Farm, North Pomfret
In good weather, guests dining outside at this “table-on-farm” establishment are treated to birdsong or, in the evening, the high-pitched whistles of peepers. Located about a 15-minute drive from Woodstock, the more-than-1,000-acre farm has been in the Emmons family since 1908.
Most ingredients, including the beef, pork, turkey, and chicken, come from the property’s bounty. The ever-changing 3-course prix-fixe menu depends on what’s available or ready to harvest.
Having grown up in his grandparents’ Italian restaurant, chef Mike Borraccio says, “I love mixing Vermont ingredients in to taste memories from my childhood as a way to have guests feel connected to their experience at Cloudland and in Vermont as a whole.”
His house-made pastas include tagliatelle topped with a classic Bolognese sauce. Even the maple caramel drizzled on the brown-butter gooseberry tart uses maple syrup tapped from Woodstock-based Bourbon Maple Farm, managed by an Emmons descendant. Open Thursdays–Saturdays late June until late October, then Fridays and Saturdays only. Closed in March. 1101 Cloudland Road. (802) 457-2599.
New York City–based travel writer and photographer Jeanine Barone has written for the New York Times and the Washington Post. She’s also an avid cyclist and Nordic skier.