NEW YORK CITY – A bustling new Soho restaurant is already turning heads with its ambitious and environmentally-conscious approach to sustainable eating.
Walking past the flagship retail outlets that are peppered among the crowded streets of Manhattan’s affluent Soho neighborhood, one could almost miss the small green awning and simple storefront belonging to the neighborhood’s newest restaurant – the briefly named Farm. Stepping inside, however, one is instantly transported to a verdant summer afternoon on an upstate New York farm.
“It’s 83% humidity and 91 degrees,” says co-owner Micha Lewis, 31, relaxing before the restaurant’s evening rush. Staff and servers bustle around her as she reclines in simple olive flight pants and a remarkably well-tailored chef’s jacket. “The halogen lights allow us to synthesize a perfect August afternoon upstate.”
Aside from the atmospheric conditions, perhaps the most striking architectural achievement of the restaurant is Farm’s large open plot of top soil, filled to brim with all manner of vegetable delights. Pumpkin and squash plants meander among tall stalks of corn, tomato plants grow in abundance, and root vegetables spring up from every corner of the plot. Small two and four-top tables cluster around ‘The Patch,’ as Lewis calls it.
“No one is doing it like we’re doing it,” she says, a broad confident smile blossoming on her face. “It’s going to revolutionize the farm-to-table industry.”
The simple premise of Farm is one that few restaurants have been bold enough to try. You arrive for your dinner reservation – choosing from a 7:30 or 9:00 p.m. slot. After a ‘farmhand’ takes your coat, guests are invited to root among the soil in ‘The Patch’, selecting the produce they wish to see on their plate. They then hand it off to their server, who whisks it away to be prepared by Lewis or one of her two sous chefs.
“Of course,” Lewis says with wink, “we don’t actually grow any of the produce in The Patch. Corn and tomato plants are brought in fresh every morning, and the ones from the previous night are discarded, or donated to a food bank or something.”
Asked if she had plans to grow her own produce at Farm, Lewis, the daughter of a Wall Street broker and a Fashion designer, admitted she wouldn’t know where to begin.
by Pembry Cornish