We will focus on five popular farm-fresh restaurants in North Carolina that are located throughout the state. As a state, North Carolina chefs, restaurants, and cities have earned prestigious culinary accolades. For example, Southern Living Magazine named Durham, North Carolina the “Tastiest Town in the South” in 2013. The popular farm fresh restaurants and talented chefs we feature are The Market Place (Asheville), Lantern (Chapel Hill), Heirloom (Charlotte), Piedmont (Durham), Rx Restaurant and Bar (Wilmington).
The Market Place has been one of downtown Asheville’s culinary focal points since 1979. When chef William Dissen bought the casual upscale restaurant in 2009, he maintained its core mission of farm-to-table cuisine. While Dissen is esteemed mostly for his culinary creations, he’s also an environmentalist, working to promote sustainable seafood and helping to organize a local composting effort among fellow restaurateurs. The Market Place may have started in the streams and mountains of western North Carolina, but it also has been influenced by worldly traditions far from their borders. The Market Place has earned national attention but their intense devotion for the heritage and roots of Appalachia always remains at the center of what they do.
The Asian-influenced Lantern Restaurant located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, praised for its local sourcing and inventive dishes continues to exceed expectations. In 2013, it debuted Lantern Table, an additional space for culinary events and cooking classes, and Lantern Garden, a patio bar with full menu. Lantern was opened in January 2002 by brother-sister team Andrea and Brendan Reusing. Chef Andrea Reusing serves simple and superbly seasoned dishes that blend Asian flavors and North Carolina ingredients and are sourced mainly from local farms and fisheries. Lantern has been named one of “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and “best farm-to-table restaurants” by Gourmet Magazine, as well as one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences” by Food & Wine.
Heirloom Chef Clark Barlowe personifies locally sourced, having began his culinary career with his family in his hometown of Lenoir, and later attending Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. After working for prestigious dining establishments such as The French Laundry in California and elBulli in Spain, he opened his dream restaurant, Heirloom, in Charlotte, early February 2014. The menu changes daily, which leads to eager anticipation from repeat visitors who enjoy the dishes — angus steak, sweet-potato gnocchi, or catch-of-the-day. Everything is created from fresh ingredients produced in North Carolina. Heirloom’s mission is to showcase the abundance of ingredients and producers that North Carolina offers by serving dishes that honor the commitment to farm fresh food from the over 70 farmers and producers from which Heirloom sources.
Piedmont chef and co-owner Ben Adams doesn’t need to look far for local ingredients – the Durham Farmers’ Market is next door and his co-owners run nearby Coon Rock Farm. Piedmont was among the first farm-sourced restaurants in Durham when it opened in 2006. Since then it has changed ownership and chefs, but Adams’ arrival in 2013 brought renewed passion to the farm-to-fork role. Adams creates refined dishes that reflect the region, such as North Carolina blue crab, with celery root confit and roasted cauliflower.
Even before they’d developed a menu for Rx Restaurant and Bar, owners Josh Novicki and chef James Doss were farm to table – they salvaged wood from a tobacco barn to make a bar and dining tables. Doss then lined up farmers and fishers to source the freshest ingredients. Now Rx, open since 2012, has emerged as one of Wilmington’s top dining destinations. Housed in historic Hall’s Drug Store (ergo the name), Rx’s menu serves Southern with a twist. Locally and seasonally inspired, ingredient-driven Southern cuisine is what they for. Rx is excited to invent dishes that feature their region’s organic farmers and fishermen. Rx showcases local craft beers on their rotating taps and their walls are always decorated with works from local artists in their commission-free space.
Just as these gourmet restaurants are located throughout the state of North Carolina, so too are our elegant member inns. Our friendly innkeepers will be happy to recommend local favorites depending upon your expressed culinary desires. The fresh basil (pictured above) was grown by Innkeeper Chloe Tuttle on her farm at Big Mill Bed and Breakfast in Williamston. Each morning guests of North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns wake up to freshly prepared gourmet breakfasts.