Critics’ choice: New and classic expressions of farm-to-table

Sir and Star; The Kingdom of Roosevelt; Primo

Sir and Star Olema, Calif.

Once upon a time, there was a restaurant that “fulfilled just about every fantasy one could have of dining in the country,” said Michael Bauer in the San Francisco Chronicle. A 2006 fire would destroy the main hall at Manka’s Inverness Lodge on Tomales Bay, but the owners recently found a new landmark down the road, and in its current incarnation, the place is already “a fantasy in the making.” Once again, Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong have achieved “a fine balance of hominess and sophistication” in both food and setting. Walk into the 1876 Olema Inn today and the whitewashed walls and bare wood floors draw your eye to a taxidermied bird over a fireplace and the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on a garden. “The star,” however, remains DeLong’s cooking, which is hyperlocal, playfully described on the changing menu, and exceptionally well executed. “I couldn’t ask for anything more” of quail than the tender bird DeLong served with an apricot sauce, and yet his kale stuffing might have been even better. “This is country dining at its best.” 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., (415) 663-1034

The Kingdom of Roosevelt Portland, Ore.

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Nowhere else is farm-to-table cuisine as wild as it is at Eric Bechard’s new venture, said Karen Brooks in Portland Monthly. The young chef was “born to push boundaries,” and he’s done so here by building an entire menu around game meats and foraging. Because state regulations bar restaurants from serving wild game, the elk, deer, and pigeons Bechard serves in his rusticated storefront space are all farm-raised. Even so, “the menu reads like a pit stop in Game of Thrones—paleo-forward and barely a carb in the house.” Deer-heart tartare and rabbit-blood pancakes court strong feelings; “four and twenty blackbirds don’t fly out of Bechard’s double-crusted pie, but buttery pigeon meat and claws dance provocatively on top.” The Kingdom of Roosevelt, named after a species of elk native to the region, is “just getting its legs,” so every perfectly realized provocation is “matched by a wild misfire.” Still, “there’s a meal to blow your mind” waiting on the menu if you manage to hit only highlights. 2035 SE 39th Ave., (503) 477-9286

Primo Rockland, Maine

Sometimes, the most influential restaurants “start far off the beaten path,” said Andrew Knowlton in Bon Appétit. Thirteen years ago, Melissa Kelly did what every big-city chef dreams of doing: She found a little house in the country with a bit of land and turned the place into a charming restaurant supplied by its own gardens. Located on a pretty hillside in Mid Coast Maine, Primo today is “one of the country’s most sincere and exciting expressions of farm-to-table” and Kelly the Northeast’s chef of the year, according to the James Beard Foundation. Out on the grounds, “honeybees buzz, and pigs, chickens, ducks, and guinea hens play in the dirt” all summer, while lolla rossa lettuce and other “of-the-moment” ingredients spring from fertile soil. Inside, a wood-burning oven “does amazing things to local Pemaquid oysters and house-made breads alike.” Don’t worry about Maine’s short growing season: Two greenhouses help keep the kitchen stocked year-round. 2 S. Main St., (207) 596-0770

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