Field Work

Restaurants that blur the line between farm and kitchen

Call it farm-to-table 2.0: A new generation of chefs and restaurateurs are spending as much time in the fields as they are in the kitchens. Here are four leading the charge:

Hunter's Head Tavern (Upperville, VA) Since leaving the dot-com world and buying 800 acres of farmland in rural Virginia, Cisco co-founder Sandy Lerner has turned Ayrshire Farm into a thriving operation. Her nearby tavern (pictured) spotlights her heritage-breed livestock and the farm's heirloom produce in pub classics like a hot brown sandwich made with Ayrshire smoked turkey.

Farm 255 (Athens, GA) Sourcing ingredients is only the beginning of the partnership between this restaurant and Full Moon Farms: All of the restaurant's employees help with harvesting organic produce or tending to the livestock. Their labors are displayed both in the restaurant–with Southern dishes like fried fennel, okra and eggplant with basil aioli–and at the newly launched Farm Cart, which sells sandwiches out of a jerry-rigged trailer.

Uncommon Ground (Chicago) When the owners made plans to open a second location of this Wrigleyville mainstay, they took this restaurant's outspoken advocacy of local farms to the next level–by building one of their own. Their 2,500-square-foot rooftop garden supplies the restaurant with produce, flowers and honey, while local purveyors like Slagel Family Farm contribute with meat. Visit in warmer weather and catch the weekly farmers' market, which conveniently coincides with a Honky Tonk Happy Hour.

Cha Bella (Savannah, GA) When he isn't in the kitchen, Cha Bella chef-owner Matthew Roher is probably harvesting greens at his three-acre Avondale Farm or leading farm-to-skillet demos for local high school students. He uses Avondale produce and local seafood to give the menu at Cha Bella an Italian lilt and plenty of Southern sass: Roast pork belly from River View Farms is served over risotto made with Slow Food-approved Carolina Gold rice and baby mustard greens.