Farmstead Table Delights Newton Foodies
Food-To-Table Initiative Finds A Home In Newton
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
“Refined, but rustic” are the words co-founder Chad Burns used to describe Farmstead Table, a Newton restaurant that is dedicated to providing American classics for lunch and dinner with locally grown ingredients.
After opening on Aug. 2, Farmstead Table is one of the most recent additions to the plethora of restaurants that surround the Boston College campus. Founded by Burns and his wife Sharon, both of whom have always been involved in the cooking industry, the restaurant was the logical next step in their culinary endeavors. Burns described the reasons for opening the business, saying, “[My wife and I] wanted to do a suburban restaurant. We’re close to home, so we can be with our kids. And Newton didn’t really have anything like our restaurant.”
Featuring items such as roast free-range chicken, grilled salmon fillet, and summer herb ribeye steak, the menu changes with the seasons to reflect the different produce available locally. “My interpretation of a farm-to-table restaurant is one that utilizes locally grown products as much as possible,” Burns said.
Farmstead Table’s produce is gathered from the New England area, which is at the peak of its summer growing season. The Burns family, which has always been involved in the restaurant business, have developed a number of relationships with local farmers and producers, ranging from tomato growers to mushroom foragers. Local producers are eager to work with the restaurant as the food-to-table movement grips the nation.
“Our meat comes from a certified organic source fed Montana grower, though,” explained Burns. “Some of the local meat produced in Vermont tends to be a tougher, leaner cut.” Although the meat is from animals fed with an organic diet, it is similar to what customers are accustomed to usually eating.
Is there any difference between locally produced food and food imported from elsewhere? “Locally grown products cost more because they’re grown slowly and not raised with a lot of pesticides,” Burns explained. “[Locally grown produce] tends not to look as ‘pretty’ sometimes because it’s all natural.”
Two of the farms Farmstead Table commends on its Facebook page for providing delicious regionally produced food, Second Nature Farm of Norton, Mass. and Brookford Farm of Canterbury, N.H., partake in the community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Second Nature Farm’s website explains the program as a farm in which members of the community “purchase a share of the season’s harvest at the beginning of the year, and in doing so provide the farmer with capital at a time when there are many expenses … in exchange for their commitment to the farm, members receive the season’s produce at a significantly discounted rate.”
While seasons dictate meal offerings at the Farmstead Table, that is not the case in many restaurants and grocery stores, as food is increasingly imported from around the world. From tomatoes being picked green and then ripened artificially to chickens being fed supplements to grow bigger faster, the food industry barely resembles the agrarian images that plaster the walls of supermarkets and the labels of dairy products as a result of the changes in technology. Robert Kenner, the director of the Academy Award nominated film Food, Inc. that chronicles the changes in the food industry, commented in the film, “The way we eat has changed more dramatically in the past 50 years than in the previous 10,000 years.” As consumers become increasingly aware of the economic and environmental consequences of the changing industry, the food-to-table movement is infiltrating popular culture in the form of consumer advocacy groups, new and expanded farmer markets, and in the form of restaurants like the Farmstead Table. With locally grown ingredients comprising the majority of the restaurant’s menu, the eatery provides consumers with an environmental and socially friendly alternative to the industrial food sector.
While some may find organic or niche restaurants to be unfamiliar and foreign, Farmstead Table is exactly the opposite. Describing the food as having a “homemade” feel, Burns explained that most plates of food comprise of only “two to three simple flavors, but presented and prepared well.” Country chic tables and chairs foster an inviting atmosphere in the crisp modern dining area. The Boston Globe recently reported on the new eatery and commented, “Farmstead Table in Newton has a homey feel.”
Although he’d someday like to have a second restaurant, Burns is proud of the initial success of Farmstead Table. While he admits, “The biggest surprise has been how much work it is to run a restaurant; there’s all the cooking and bookkeeping,” he and his wife have greatly enjoyed the experience thus far. “Receiving feedback and seeing the smiles of customers has been the most rewarding part,” the happy owner reflected.
While a website is in the works, all information, including hours and a menu, can be found on the Facebook page. Be sure to “like” the page because the menu focuses on fresh local food and specials, which change frequently, and are announced online. Located across from the Newton Centre stop on the D-line, the restaurant is accessible and perhaps the perfect place to try this weekend with parents. n