South Florida Chefs Grow Their Own
From live honeybees on the bar to backyard gardens and house-cultured yogurt.
February 06, 2013
“Farm-to-table’’ has swept the restaurant scene from coast to coast, but now chefs are moving beyond the trend, not only getting ingredients directly from artisanal purveyors, but actually growing their own. And South Florida’s climate is ideal for those chefs who have their hands in both the garden and the kitchen. Below, we round up the restaurants at the frontline of the “backyard-to-table” movement.
“At first people in the kitchen thought something was wrong because the lettuce was warm, but it had just come out of the ground,’’ says chef Chris Miracolo. He grows tomatoes, chilies, and herbs on the back patio, collaborates with Heritage Hen Farms to culture his own yogurt, and has been known to keep a Plexiglass-ensconced honeycomb with actual bees on the bar. Even pickles on the humble burgers are made from cucumbers grown on property. 169 N.E. 2nd Ave., Delray Beach, 561-381-9970; maxsharvest.com
It might sit on hopping Atlantic Avenue, but that didn’t stop the owners of this popular spot from planting an outdoor herb garden that seasons cocktails, creative sushi, and cooked dishes. Rosemary and thyme used in the kung pao lamb chops, flash fried basil leaves in the seared tuna roll, and a sage leaf that tops the Asian Pear cocktail are all home grown. 8 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-330-4236
Filled with herbs used to enliven his dishes, the scent of chef Donald Young’s garden is intoxicating. Steak takes on another dimension when it is grilled with rosemary plucked hours earlier from the garden, while salsas and pasta sauces are heady with cilantro, oregano, Italian parsley, basil, and lemon thyme. 400 Ave. of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens, 561-627-4852
Thasos Greek Taverna
At this striking new Fort Lauderale spot, wild oregano from the mountains of Thasos is used to season everything from octopus to roast chicken. The herb is picked by the owner’s family, rolled in cloth, and shipped to the restaurant. Thasos’ architect, too, contributes to the fresh herb supply, growing rosemary in his backyard to enhance ultra-fresh whole fish. 3300 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-200-6006; thasostaverna.com
The Breakers, Palm Beach
The 2,000 square foot herb and vegetable gardens at this sprawling oceanfront retreat are as picturesque as they are bountiful. Cabbage, mustard greens, kohlrabi, corn, arugula, spinach, broccoli, and squash are among the vegetables that grow alongside aromatic herbs—all put to delicious use in the hotel’s restaurants. One South County Road, Palm Beach, 954-200-6006; thebreakers.com
Amid the high-end shops of Mizner Park, chef Andre Lane has planted a garden with a range of herbs, including chocolate-mint, pineapple-mint, sage, marjoram, lemon balm, and rosemary, which he uses in his lavish cocktails and menu offerings such as basil pesto chicken and rosemary olive oil gelato. A “dining in the dark’’ menu, along with those luscious libations, is offered at the luxe movie theater upstairs. 301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-922-6699; tanzyrestaurant.com
The name stands for “Doing It Green,’’ the philosophy behind Robert Greenfield’s organic restaurant, which moved from West Delray to Atlantic Avenue this year. In the original location, Greenfield planted a garden right in the middle of the parking lot, and he is currently in negotiation with his landlord to create a fertile patch in the new location’s courtyard. “It’s not just fresh, it’s educational,’’ says Greenfield. “We encourage kids to touch the herbs.’’ 777 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-279-1002; digdelray.com