Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bona Terra

There have been a couple of articles lately about restaurants that are pledging to use local produce. For example, there's Chipotle, the fast-food Mexican restaurant, which will, "This summer. . . purchas[e] 25 percent of at least one produce item for each of its stores from small and mid-sized farms located within about 200 miles. Those purchases could include lettuce, onions and peppers" for their 730 restaurants. They have to source from farms of 500 acres or more, they say, though, because "tiny" suppliers are too unreliable.

Also, Eat N' Park has been buying local produce for years, and pledges to use 15% local produce. And there's now a new non-profit group that's trying to organize the farm to restaurant/ grocery store distribution: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08175/891930-85.stm.

Fast food and mass markets are all well and good, and extremely important, but the really fun part is going to a fine dining establishment that uses local produce. I was lucky enough to go to the only one in Pittsburgh to be recognized by Gourmet Magazine as one of the best farm to table restaurants in the nation, Bona Terra in Sharpsburg. Here is the four star review from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/dining/20031114dine1114fnp2.asp.

Many people write restaurant reviews in blogs and on websites, and you can easily find a ton on Bona Terra, which won Pittsburgh Magazine's best new restaurant in 2004 after it opened and continues to be on local best lists. I don't think I can do the genre justice. I would just like to say that the restaurant is in a very unassuming location, next to the St. Vincent dePaul thrift shop and across from Jocko's Pub. And its decor is likewise unassuming. Its prices assume a more consumptive clientele, but the menu, which supposedly changes daily, reflects an appreciation for using local, in-season produce. Almost each menu item mentioned something which came from a local source from the Firefly Farms goat cheese, through the local pork, and on into the local kale. Strawberry sauce figured into one dessert I heard about and strawberry vinaigrette was part of the salad menu as well. Honestly I expected a little bit more from local souces, thinking that all of the produce would be local, but it was not. However, many, many items were. So, if it's your anniversary or something and Uncle George has sent you some money, you might want to splurge on a local restaurant that supports our local farms.

Other upscale restaurants that serve the best possible food, that is food that is freshly produced locally, include Casbah, Lydia's, Cafe at the Frick, Six Penn Kitchen, Legume, and Ubuu 6.


Anonymous said...

I've heard of all of these, and been to most, but couldn't find any info about Ubuu 6 online? Could you tell me more about where that is?

Cindy Green said...

Uubu 6 is in the southside slopes. Here is their website: http://www.uubu6.com/

We went once last year and liked it very much and noticed they used local, seasonal ingredients. Not sure if they still do, because the dinner menu online is from April (and can't be local -- strawberries, asparagus, etc, but what restaurant around here can do produce local and fresh in April?)