Olmsted's backyard-to-table philosophy
The farm-to-table movement where sustainability is at the forefront and waste in non-existent has gained traction over the last few years, but the new Olmsted restaurant is making backyard-to-table a new trend.
8 October, 2016
Opening in August this year, the Brooklyn restaurant Olmsted has cultivated a micro farm that’s not just a visually pleasing extension of the dining space. Raised garden beds provide over 80 varieties of vegetables, herbs and other plants all to be used in the seasonal dishes and cocktails.
Quails nest in the garden and provide eggs. A claw foot bath houses a running water garden where the waste from the fish is used for manure for the plants. In the compost bin (hidden out of the guest’s eyesight), vegetable scraps are broken down by the larvae of flies, and when mature, they’re fed to the crayfish.
The leaves of radishes feature in Olmsted’s gazpacho, lemon balm is used to finish of the dish, and nasturtium leaves are shaken into a gin cocktail.
The ideas for Olmsted come from the partnership of farmer and horticulturalist Ian Rothman and chef Greg Baxtrom. Both have had a colourful career, with Baxtrom working is some of the world’s most exciting and famed kitchens including Alinea, Per Se, and Atera. Rothman foundered a 10-acre farm in Massachusetts and is the former horticulturist at Atera, where the two met.
Designing a garden in the backyard of the Brooklyn space didn’t come without its challenges. With the shade from established trees and nearby building, Buxtrom tells Gardenista during the design process Rothman had carefully “identified the shady areas of the garden and chose plant varieties that are better suited for those areas” which included violets, nettles, orpines, ramps, and pawpaw.
“We wanted one area that was pretty and would display examples from the menu, and one area that could function as an annual rotation,” he says.
With cushions on bench seating, the garden is used not only for produce as the Olmsted guests enjoy a cocktail, tea or a bite to eat amongst the kale, rosemary, wasabi, mint and white asparagus. At night fairy lights are switched on overhead, and a large wood stove provides warmth.
Inside, the garden theme continues with a living wall adding to the atmosphere. “We have discussed a 2.0 version, like a strawberry or cherry wall,” says Baxtrom who envisages guests will pick their own fruit to garnish their cocktails.
Photography: Evan Sung
To book a table a Olmsted click here!