Farm-to-table is a pretty popular concept these days, and a new restaurant takes it about as far as it can go, growing and raising almost all its food right outside.
Fair Oaks Farms has opened The Farmhouse Restaurant and Conference Center, an $8 million expansion at the popular agritourist destination in Newton County. The 20,000-square-foot complex includes a local craft beer pub, a conference center that seats 280, and a sit-down restaurant with an emphasis on American Farm Cuisine, and will add a fresh food market and bakery later this summer.
Visitors to the sprawling farm and agricultural education center at exit 220 on Interstate 65 have always been able to grab a grilled cheese sandwich made with dairy produced on-site. But Fair Oaks Farms is graduating to more grown-up fair.
The focus of the 265-seat restaurant – helmed by Carl Bruggemeier, a nationally renowned and James Beard Award-winning restauranteur who has run the Tavern on the Green in New York City and Commander's Palace in New Orleans – is on freshness.
How fresh? Eventually, 80 percent of the menu ingredients will be raised on Fair Oaks Farm or by a select few other local growers. The farm is already supplying dairy, pork and beef to the restaurant.
Fair Oaks Farms says it is the nation's first large-scale "Our Farm, to Your Plate, In Our House" dining concept.
"Transparency, farm freshness and sustainability are essential ingredients in our promise to the guest, and we want you to see what we do and how we do it," Bruggemeier said. "From the glass-encased, 4,500-square-foot kitchen to the animal experiences on the farm, the chefs and farmers take very special care to raise, produce and present all our food here, and we are very proud of our work."
Bruggemeier, who co-owns the restaurant, has more than 40 years in the hospitality business and founded the Ciao Cucina Restaurant Group.
He hired Christopher Turner as executive chef of the new restaurant, at 753 North 600 East, Fair Oaks. He has run fine dining restaurants such as the Pacific Times Cafe, Restaurant Norman's and Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, and most recently served as corporate executive chef for Silver Lining Inflight Catering in Florida.
"The Farmhouse presents me with a unique opportunity to prepare farm-fresh dishes with ingredients produced on-site for the first time in my career," Turner said. "I've worked with Carl on many occasions and am looking forward to this new venture together."
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
To make a reservation or book an event, call (219) 394-FOOD. For more information, visit http://fofarms.com/.