Visiting A Farm-To-Table Restaurant

For my personal “farm visit,” I visited a farm-to-table restaurant with my family in order to gain some insight as to how local farmed food is served at an establishment that cooks with local ingredients (and also to eat a delicious meal).  The restaurant I visited is called Nic L Inn Wine Cellar on the Hudson is located at 135 N Water St, Poughkeepsie, just up the street from the Hudson River.

While we sat down, the owner of the restaurant came to the table to explain some information about their operation.  They proudly told us that they were a farm-to-table that used mostly local ingredients that are farm-fresh, and pointed out that various local farms were listed on the menu.  In addition to being a farm-to-table, the restaurant also made their own pasta, made their own in-house sausage, served local beer, etc. Their cheese board included three types of cheeses from Sprout Creek, including their Toussaint, Kinked, and Margie.  The chicken I ordered came from Murray Farm in Fallsburg, NY. Other farms were listed next to some of their other dishes, including Dashing Star Farm from Millterton, NY, and the Hudson Valley Cattle Company from Woodridge, NY. Their specials were written on a blackboard on the wall, which also listed other farm names.  However, much of their produce was not listed as being from a specific farm, despite the owner’s claim of local ingredients.

There was certainly an element of luxury to this type of establishment, which was very interesting to me.  I often wondered throughout some of our farm visits: who is this food being grown for and served to? Farm-to-table dining, at least in this case, certainly did not seem financially accessible to a large portion of Poughkeepsie residents.  This, of course, brings up questions of fresh-food access that we have been discussing all semester, and reminds us that it is sometimes very difficult to make enough money farming without selling specialty products to higher-end buyers.

Overall, the dining experience was wonderful and the service attentive.  While I am torn about the high-end farm-to-table initiative, which makes no effort to make local food widely available, I appreciated the privilege of being able to consume local foods with my family and boyfriend while celebrating my 22nd birthday.  However, there was no doubt in my mind that this restaurant was more of a business model than it was in genuine support of sustainable, local, organic agriculture.

By Greg