The Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge • Boonville
Tucked away in secluded Boonville, you’ll find The Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge Winery. Surrounded by a vineyard, farmland, and lush forest, this elegant restaurant embodies what it means to be farm-to-table; almost all of its produce is sourced directly from its own organic farm, as well as other local suppliers. “We strive for sustainability and believe we impact our environment in only a positive way,” says Christian Froelich, executive chef and owner.
Froelich’s new Southern menu changes weekly, sometimes even daily, and is constantly adapting to the changing seasons and weather. Froelich strives to offer guests a quality experience that feels comfortable, never condescending. “I don’t over-complicate the ingredients, but I do allow folks to try something that may be a little new to them,” he says. This fall, Froelich is looking forward to working with local pumpkin, squash, and lettuce as the weather cools down.
If you’re looking for a night off from your usual dinner routine, The Hearth Restaurant is the place to go. “We provide a haven where folks can relax, enjoy the atmosphere, sip fine wine, eat amazing food, and recharge in an environment close to nature,” Froelich says.
In 1998, Susan Casey and her sister Lynn opened The Purple Onion as a place for their friends and family to gather for good food and conversation, away from home or work. Almost 20 years later, The Purple Onion is more alive than ever but has never strayed away from its mantra: Make delicious food while supporting local farmers. They’ve been working with Apple Brandy Beef in North Wilkesboro for almost 10 years, they get fresh trout from Sunburst Trout Farms in Waynesville, and they source from four or five independent farmers throughout the year for specific items. “Greg Carter is our mushroom man — he supplies us with shiitakes all year round, and we see him weekly,” Casey says.
The restaurant’s Mediterranean-inspired menu changes four times a year, usually around summer solstice, fall, winter, and spring equinox. “We’ll be starting a new fall menu around the 22nd of this month [September],” Casey says. “And my goodness, the summer is wonderful, but there’s so much to be excited about fall, too — squash, root vegetables, and lots of greens.”
In addition to its fresh and seasonal menu, The Purple Onion boasts live, local music every Thursday and Saturday night. Make sure to visit the restaurant’s website to see who will be performing, and enjoy an evening filled with good tunes and great food.
Elsewhere on 10th is a casual farm-to-table restaurant in North Wilkesboro. Owner and chef, Lia Chasar, focuses on sourcing from family gardeners and farmers first and only uses larger local or regional farms when necessary. “The goal is not just to get safe, humanely raised foods, but to promote those small family businesses and encourage more folks to move into small-scale organic farming,” Chasar says. On Elsewhere’s website, you will find a list of some of the local farms that Elsewhere on 10th works with on a regular basis, including Tumbling Shoals Farm, Perry Lowe Orchards, and Blue Ridge Mountain Coffee Roasters.
When it comes to the menu — which changes weekly depending on what’s in season — think freshly baked breads, house-made desserts, and rustic entrées. “I like creating new takes on regional dishes here in United States, as well as international dishes I’ve experienced on my travels,” Chasar says. She looks forward to incorporating apples and greens into new dishes when fall arrives.
Elsewhere is giving back to its community in more ways than just supporting local farmers and providing a high-quality dining experience. The restaurant belongs to a philanthropic parent group called Platina’s Table, which has a philosophy guided by living simply, healthfully, compassionately, and sustainably. With Platina’s help, Elsewhere has a community kitchen where it holds classes and workshops. It offers youth programs and internships to provide knowledge and experience needed for restaurant careers, and the dining room often serves as a meeting space for nonprofits in the area.
Giardini Trattoria is an Italian farm-to-table restaurant located in the small Foothills town of Columbus, just southeast of Asheville. The name of the restaurant roughly translates to “garden tavern,” which perfectly describes this warm and welcoming establishment. The interior feels like you’re dining at a friend’s house, which is complete with a fireplace and cozy furnishings, and the menu will have you convinced you’ve been transported to Italy. Joe Laudisio, cofounder with his wife Mary Lyth, calls Giardini the “go-to restaurant” in their area.
Laudisio and Lyth see “farm-to-table” from an Italian point of view. Fresh, simple, seasonal food is the “old-world” way — Laudisio was inspired by his numerous trips throughout Italy and learned to cook authentic cuisine from his grandmothers when he was young. Giardini’s menu is filled with seasonal pasta dishes, house-made, wood-fired pizzas, and traditional appetizers like caprese salad. “Our menu changes three to four times a year, in rhythm with the seasonal availability of fresh and organic offerings,” Laudisio says.
As fall approaches, Laudisio is excited to incorporate butternut squash, pumpkin, apples, and Lacinato kale into the menu. Every ingredient is sourced directly from Giardini’s garden just steps away from the restaurant’s front door or from local and regional farms around the Foothills. Mountain Berry Farm in Landrum and Forest Creek Farm and Nursery in Saluda are among Giardini’s local producers. Giardini Trattoria is open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.
More Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Foothills Region
Wisteria Southern Gastropub • Morganton
Chef Obie Ferguson of Wisteria understands the importance of transparency when it comes to what Wisteria serves, and he lays out the restaurant’s mantra simply: “We’re farm-to-table because I’m friends with farmers.” Learn more.
Highland Avenue • Hickory
At Highland Avenue, which opened in 2013, diners might be surprised at how the restaurant puts a twist on its dishes, but they can still expect classic comfort from what they eat. Learn more.
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