4th and Swift, named after the historic 4th ward in which it is housed and its owner Jay Swift, has been serving Southern inspired dishes to Atlanta diners for eight years. Chef Jay Swift has been involved in the restaurant industry since the ripe young age of 14 years, and although not a Southerner by birth he has made the south his home and was responsible for revitalizing the southern menu and the restaurant of South City Kitchen where he launched his Atlanta career. Now with his own ship to sail he is committed to local food, and whenever possible seasonally from his own kitchen garden just a few blocks away. With a menu that is regularly changing it’s hard to pin down all the livestock farms that Chef Jay uses for his meat source…however, we will highlight the farms that were part of the menu the evening we had dinner there earlier in the summer.
Loving the steamy heat of the south we had dinner on the patio which is simple and shady; the interior of the restaurant is quite lovely – it is sophisticated yet still retains the older industrial feel of the neighbourhood - exposed utility piping, timber supports and concrete.
The dinner choice for Kate was a done deal – White Oak Pastures lamb and ricotta meatballs, which were fabulous - tasty, moist and flavourful, and for me chef compiled a tasty medley of local vegetables – hopefully including some from the kitchen garden.
We just wished there had been more to choose from in terms of humanely produced meat – the lamb meatballs were the only choice for an ethical omnivore, although the server did inform us that White Oak Pastures chicken had been featured on the menu a week or so previously; but overall our experience was good and we would definitely dine there again
the farms and suppliers
THOSE MEETING THE F2B HUMANE PROTOCOL -
White Oak Pastures (lamb)
BLOG: The Vegan and The Stockman
BLOG: The Stockman: Redux
THE OTHER FARMS & SUPPLIERS -
Snake River Farms, TX (beef)
Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork, NC (pork)
Maple Leaf Farms (duck)
Although the pigs at Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork do not meet the F2B Humane Protocol, the folks at the farm were happy to talk with us on the phone, and were very transparent about how they raise their hogs and why they choose this method. They used to raise their pigs on pasture but for disease control and to satisfy their Japanese market moved them into barns a few years ago – the pigs apparently have ample room on straw. We will try and visit the farm when next in NC to see what the 'Heritage Farms animal welfare protocol looks like and draw our own conclusions. Pigs are such inquisitive and intelligent creatures confinement would seem hard on them, but barns and straw have to be better than concrete and bars.
Snake River Farms appears to be a brand for beef, one of the specialities being Kobe and wagyu beef. There is only one farm itemized on the Snake River Farms website - Double R Farms, WA. a 50,000 acre ranch which has an integrated beef system - birth to processing. One would hope that on 50,000 acres the cattle are grass born, raised AND finished but that isn’t a guarantee – we have emailed the farm and will report back with the reply.
Kobe and Wagyu Beef
Wagyu literally means Japanese cow and includes several breeds of cattle that share the same characteristics within the animal and the meat, including Kobe beef cattle (which originally came from the Kobe region of Japan). Wagyu beef is about the breed and the taste and has no reflection on the raising methods and therefore can be feedlot finished quite as easily as conventional beef – albeit a wagyu feedlot. For those folks who anecdotally report that Kobe cattle get a massage - this may be true but from what I have researched this is less about humane pampering and more historically about preventing muscle cramping on small farms in Japan where the animals did not have sufficient room to use their muscles.
Maple Leaf Farms supplying duck meat – the birds are raised indoors “in quiet, spacious barns where they have room to roam about”. We have included a link for the raising protocol for the birds.
But indoors is indoors and prevents aquatic birds like ducks and geese from water bathing.
TABLE 17 is rated number one in the top 10 'farm to table' restaurants in Toronto - so on that basis we definitely thought it ought to be worth a dinner reservation…and it was. The interior was eclectic in decor, and intimate, the food was delicious, and chef made a much-appreciated effort to provide the vegan half of the party with a delicious and well-presented veggie plate. There are times that it feels as a non-carnivore my meal orders are treated a little contemptuously by chefs (but that’s for another blog).
My omnivore dining partner ordered the house made ham hock terrine, which was delicious (the starter actually had two slices of terrine but the by the time we took the photo one had already been devoured).
The 'country-style' terrine was chunky, flavorful and with just enough saltiness from the curing process to make it a perfect start to the meal. This was followed by a main course of local Lake Erie pickerel, so things were looking good for getting the answers to my questions about the farm sources. Chatting to our waitress about the suppliers she proudly announced that chef knew exactly where all his meat came from and that she would have no problem in getting the information for me. Turns out she did (have a problem getting the information) and chef said he didn't know the individual farms that supplied his meat. Disappointed and feeling somewhat cheated (remember - “number one farm to table”) I wrote to the restaurant the following day expressing my dismay. Within a short while I received an apologetic email from the manager saying that the chef had been too busy to list the meat suppliers during dinner, however he went onto say this was no excuse and my contact information should have been obtained and the required information provided out of restaurant service hours. In response to my email it had been the job of the commis chef to put all the information together and the manager provided me with a detailed list of their suppliers - from the duck all the way to the elk.
To get an idea of the raising methods of the farms which supply Table 17 I am relying on Internet searches (not being a Toronto resident) and importantly reading between and behind the 'blurbs' on the various websites. My findings and interpretations can be found below, but in summary Table 17 gets top marks for taste, ambience, supplier knowledge and now of course transparency.
The lesson learned for me as a consumer is whenever possible try and extract the farm information outside of a busy dinner-time - however, PR is indispensable for the reputation of a restaurant and I believe every effort should be made to take care of the customers' questions in a professional manner without resorting to dismissive tactics, especially in this new dining era of ‘know your farmer know your food’.
The dining experience, which this page is hoping to exemplify, is that dining-out is a series of relationships, from the farmer to the chef to the customer - history has shown us that it is no coincidence that the break down of these relationships has accompanied the general demise in food production in the last half century. However, what is very exciting is that just a few years ago a network like Farm 2 Belly could not have existed - but in our new ‘food intelligence’ epoch there are many restaurants to shout-out about where transparency and a respect for the grass-roots ingredients are linchpins in the final dishes on the tables of restaurants.
THE FARMS & SUPPLIERS
THOSE MEETING THE F2B HUMANE PROTOCOL
KUNAN FARMS (pork)
SECOND WIND, (elk)
BEVERLEY CREEK (lamb)
CUMBRAE'S (lamb only )
THE OTHER SUPPLIERS AND PRODUCERS
CUMBRAE'S (ham & bacon)
ONTARIO HARVEST (pork)
GEORGE MCGEE (beef)
KING COLE DUCKS (duck)
We were unable to find the website for Kunan Farms and have gleaned the information through third party Blogs - however it would appear that this is a Mennonite farm raising free-range heritage Duroc pigs. All the grain fed to the pigs is grown on the farm.
Cumbrae's a Toronto butcher, opened it’s doors 10 years ago by third generation butcher Stephan Alexander whose aim was to supply Toronto consumers and restaurants with local quality meat.
It has become a co-operative of 70 farms. All the spring lamb as far as I can ascertain is raised on pasture. Beef is also supplied to Table 17 from Cumbrae’s but for the most part the beef cattle are finished in barns on grain and silage at age 14 months…bearing in mind that under the industry's standards calves are shipped out to feedlots straight after weaning.
A Farm 17 supplier worth mentioning is ONTARIO HARVEST (although more research is needed to itemize and investigate the individual producers) which specializes in Ontario meat produced under the following guidelines:- “Naturally & ethically raised, hormone & antibiotic free, specializing in game meats & game fowl, heritage breed products”.
GEORGE MCGEE Stirling ON is a beef supplier for the restaurant - however we couldn't find any information on this cattleman.
Manager David Upper
Reuse, repurpose and recycle are the three 'R's which come to mind when one first walks into Southbound, a tastefully converted 1880s drapery shop in Old Chamblee right across from the railroad tracks. Walking inside one immediately knows this is going to be something different with the prospect of something special! No expense and attention to detail has been spared in the refurbishment - what isn't reused, repurposed or recycled fits in perfectly with the rustic decor and ambience of the restaurant - even the 2014 poured concrete bar top fits right in with the old buckets that have been turned into light fixtures illuminating the bar.
Dennis Lange has orchestrated his new restaurant (two years in the making) perfectly and he is determined that his food is going to be as good as its surrounds. Dennis has been part of the Atlanta food scene for a good many years - one of the founding members of Slow Food Atlanta, hands on soil regenerator at Gaia Gardens home to Love is Love Farm Atlanta's renowned organic produce farm, and a respected figure with Georgia Organics - so he knows a thing or two about quality ingredients and the importance of buying local. The menu is American with an emphasis on good old Southern dishes, and in the evening dinner is in the control of chef Cooper Mills formerly of Livingston restaurant another great Atlanta eatery. My personal recommendation is to go for lunch as I think this is where the restaurant excels; featuring items such as a BLT with bacon to die for from our friend Rusty Bowers owner of Pine Street Market, and a pulled pork sandwich with pork sourced from no other than GA Berkshire hog farmer Tommy Searcy from Gum Creek Farms - what Southern menu isn't complete without this item. The chèvre, which accompanies the delicious local salad greens, comes from Decimal Place Farm (not only have we met the goats but have helped milk them too!!).
My only criticism (if i had one) is that the chef is a little heavy handed with the garlic - especially in simple veggie dishes, however Southbound is a wonderful addition to the Atlanta food scene and it is exciting to have such a great restaurant outside of the Atlanta city limits.
We will definitely be regular lunch patrons and wish Dennis Lange every success in his new venture. This is a word of mouth restaurant as it really is off the beaten track - the good news is that the word is getting out and the word is obviously good because the restaurant tables are full for lunch and dinner despite only being open a since June2014. Here's to local and here's to quality ingredients...and here's to the tasty future for Southbound.
The farms & Suppliers
THOSE MEETING THE F2B HUMANE PROTOCOL
Pine Street Market (bacon & charcuterie)
Gum Creek Farms (pork)
Decimal Place Farm (goat's cheese)
THE OTHER FARMS & SUPPLIERS
Springer Mountain Farms (chicken)
Heywood's Provision Company (local butcher's shop)
Heywood's Provision Company is a member of the Butcher's Guild and as such has taken the Butcher's Guild Oath. We intend to visit the shop and discover the farms which supply the meat as it isn't evident from their website.
Springer Mountain Farms chicken a popular choice for chefs in Georgia unfortunately their American Humane Association standards do not meet the F2B Humane Protocol. Here is the link for the standards, simply click onto broiler chickens pdf when you reach the page and decide for yourself whether these standards meet you personal requirements.
Pretty great start to the Farm2Belly kick off at Empire State South
First of all, the space was amazing but the menu, right out of the gate was something really special. There was a wealth of heirloom vegetables and legumes and jumping out was the chicken from a farm we know and love GrassRoots Farm.
One of us was keenly eyeing the duck, and after asking its source and discovering it was Darby Farms ordered it for her entree. The duck was incredible - succulent, juicy and bursting with rich "gameynes", it tasted, well 'ducky' not just some mound of ubiquitous protein, and it was cooked to perfection (chef cooks it medium rare as standard which reflects the purity of the product in our opinion). Be wary of chefs who like to char or serve their proteins well done, this generally means the meat is either dubiously sourced or at the very least frozen - besides chicken of course. But even then, pasture raised chicken is generally a little more pink around the bones since there is more vascularity in the tissue because they actually move around. It was paired with a fresh crunchy corn succotash and a nugget of duck confit, that was just as good if not better than dessert!
Another sign of the real 'cheffing' that happens behind the scenes of Empire State South is the ease at which they prepared a special meal for Gillian, who is vegan (a real live vegan who supports sustainable farmers who raise animals humanely - she is a vegan because of the atrocities of Factory Farming and for that reason alone...), Chef prepared a wonderful vegetable plate with delicious local beans, greens, veggies and gourmet mushrooms.
We were fortunate to snag the chef... well accost him,.. Atlanta's own Josh Hopkins. We asked him where he sourced his meat, and he was able to list all the farms that supply his ingredients. His main focus is natural/pasture raised proteins and he stands strongly behind that philosophy. To name but a few of his suppliers: Grassroots Farm, Darby Farms, White Oak Pastures, and Riverview Farms.
In summation- Empire State South is a poster child for humane eats in a high end gastronomic haven that promises to, not only exhilarate the palate, but also avail ones quest to eat out and eat right. .
the farms & suppliers
THOSE MEETING THE F2B HUMANE PROTOCOL:-
BLOG: Grassroots Pastured Poultry: Taste the Difference
White Oak Pastures
BLOG: The Vegan and The Stockman
BLOG: The Stockman: Redux
THE OTHER FARMS & SUPPLIERS:–
Southeast Family Farms comprising of
Southeast Family Farms is part of Halpern’s which is referred to as their ‘farm to table’ side of the business. The five main farms comprising SFF are - Niman Ranch, Harris Ranch, Masami Beef, Two Rivers, & Joyce Farms. Interestingly, except for Joyce Farms, the suppliers are Mid and Western based.
Bill and Nicolette Niman no longer own Niman Ranch. They parted ways with the farm that Bill started at the end of the 1970s in 2007, and began a new farming venture, BN Ranch. One of the main reasons that Bill Niman cites for his departure :is because he felt that it "fell into the hands of conventional meat and marketing guys as opposed to ranching guys...You can't really ferret out how [the cattle] are being raised [now]."
Harris Ranch (not to be confused with the Harris Family of White Oak Pastures) is a massive beef feedlot (capacity 100,000 head of cattle) and processing facility out in California. From my understanding the main source for the Harris CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) comes from independent cattle ranchers i.e. outside producers.
Masami Food Inc cattle are born and finished on the ranch; the cattle are finished in barns on a concentrated grain feed formulated for the requirements of a grade 10 wagyu beef.
Two Rivers today is more of a brand than a ranch and supplies 100 distributors in 40 states. The head office is in South Dakota, and like Niman Ranch and Harris Ranch the animals will be auditable for quality control purposes, but otherwise untraceable for the regular Joe or Josephine Consumer.
Joyce Farms is a mixed bag – the beef is 100% grass-fed and the Poulet Rouge heritage chicken meets level 4 on the 5-Step Global Animal Partnership index, (which is almost top marks), However the raising methods for the rest of the livestock, including the 'regular' chicken, is unclear. I have written a mini blog on Joyce Farms as it is worth a fuller discussion due to its mixed standards.
Empire State South
Chef Josh Hopkins