The epitome of farm-to-tableDining Thursday, March 29th, 2012
The farm-to-table concept of restaurants has to be one of the hottest trends out there today. Chefs all over the world continue to market their favorite farms and farmers, and it is not uncommon these days for them to list the places where the ingredients come from on their menus.
If you look around our city you will find a ton of little bistro’s that are perfect examples of this concept. Even some of the larger restaurants have latched on to this idea and are promoting it. Probably the most famous and best example of the genre is Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.
Opening back in 1971, Alice Waters did something no other chefs at the time were doing. She would support her local farming community by purchasing all her goods from them and use only those ingredients on her menus. This revelation took off and it is said she was the birth of this movement.
As I mentioned, we have many restaurants in San Diego that are also part of this movement and have been for some time. In my view, one of the best is The Smoking Goat. Offering an eclectic ever-changing menu, they showcase some of the best rustic fare you will find in this city.
Located on 30th Street, at the corner of Upas, The Smoking Goat is a tiny bistro that dishes out bold flavors. As you enter the small restaurant, you feel as if you entered someone’s kitchen, which in fact you have. The kitchen itself is right there, out in the open, and always bustling away.
As you look around, check out the walls. Planks of light wood are lined up from the ground to the ceiling. The simple fact of hanging picture frames with no pictures is art in itself and the perfect fitting for this place. There is no fuss, just a rustic quality like no other.
One quick warning, make a reservation and go with a small party. Anything six or more will be very difficult for them. They only seat up to 30 people, which is inclusive of a small front sidewalk patio. There have been rumors of expansion to the space next door, but nothing is confirmed.
The menu truly goes with the seasons. I’ve been many times, during all the different seasons, and just by reading the menu, you can tell just how cold or warm it is outside. On my most recent visit, they had just launched the new menu and I’m so glad I got in right from the start of it.
One of my favorite aspects of this place is that the menu remains small. You really see the love and care that goes into each dish as it is prepared. Start with Suzy’s Beet Salad ($9); it is a no-miss. I love beets and these have to be some of the best I have ever had. Perfectly dressed with champagne vinaigrette and peppery arugula, this was an expertly matched dish.
Thankfully, the menu includes Escargots ($7) and these are classically prepared with garlic parsley butter and served with a chunk of crusty bread.
The Cast Iron Duck Breast ($26) was crispy and juicy. It just could not have been a better dish. Braised red cabbage and spring vegetables did justice to the duck, but finishing the dish with a huckleberry gastrique really knocked it out of the park.
I urge you to go and experience this true farm-to-table restaurant.
The Smoking Goat
3408 30th Street
San Diego 92104
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