Farmstand, Covent Garden, London
Ingredients are sustainably sourced exclusively from UK-based suppliers, while the menu is free from refined sugars, gluten, dairy, hormones and antibiotics. If that sounds worthy, the execution – a tasty and simple breakfast menu, and five mains plus nine sides at other times – keep the carnivorous and the vegan satisfied and healthy in a large number of combinations.
Soya, Paris, France
Years ago, I visited Paris with a vegetarian. It was challenging. There’s a greater understanding now, of course, and also great spots like Soya, an organic vegetarian place bringing a French sensibility – it’s got to taste good – to a sector of the market that’s all-too-often all-too-worthy. The lasagna and the curry, while perhaps a little pricy at €20 apiece, are particularly good.
The Farmhouse Inn, Forestville, California, US
When seeking out places to feed the mind, body and soul, the laid back, rustic charm of The Farmhouse Inn offers the perfect tonic. It also happens to come with showers that double as in-room hammams, a poolside firepit (with forks, marshmallows, chocolate and crackers for all your late night s’mores needs), a quite wonderful spa and, as it happens, a Michelin- starred restaurant. This is a place that soothes your body while it expands your waistline.
Chef Steve Litke takes local ingredients – from local producers and owners Catherine and Joe Bartolomei’s own family ranch – and gives them a little flourish from the sunnier bits of Europe and, frequently, slightly further afield. If you feel the need to pigeonhole, let’s call it Cali-Med with an Asian twist. If you don’t, let’s just call it delicious.
This is imaginative cuisine of the highest order. There’s not a wasted ingredient, just a deep understanding of flavours and skilful cooking that lets the key ingredients sing. Local Dungeness crab, for example, gets nudged towards Japan with its clever use of shitake and shimeji mushrooms. Hudson Valley foie gras, on the other hand, goes on a world tour, with macadamia nut-date purée, strawberry gel, pickled blackberry and pain perdu.
As for the chanterelle tortellini, let’s just say there are very few relatives I wouldn’t sell out for another bowlful.
Alongside the Snake River Farms beef – deeply marbled steaks from an Angus/Wagyu crossbreed cow that’s also a favourite of Wolfgang Puck’s – perhaps the star of the show is Litke’s signature Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit. While the name gives an indication that, for all the obvious luxuries, The Farmhouse Inn is a wonderfully relaxed place that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the resulting dish is superb. It’s basically rabbit three ways – bacon-wrapped loin, roasted rack, confit of leg – with a little Yukon potato and grain mustard cream sauce.
Pastry chef Phil Ogiela’s desserts are similarly dazzling, from the elaborate Strawberry Fields – a combination of fresh strawberries, sorbet, “vanilla wafer lattice”, and flourless almond cake – to the simple ice creams, although, admittedly, even they come in varieties such as “orange carrot gelee” and “garden flowers and herbs”. In short? Spectacular.
Rabbit rabbit rabbit
Both the title and execution of The Farmhouse Inn’s signature dish speak volumes