If you notice a restaurant that offers fixed rate, family style, one day only, multi-course meals (usually themed), it’s a good sign of a creative chef that does not like to sit on his or her laurels. Chef Ray Garcia has been exploring the studio at FIG and pairing with local growers to offer fun, fresh farm dinners all summer long. The most recent farm-to-table to be featured on FIG’s special menu came compliments of Harry’s Berries, an organic farm up in Oxnard, Calif. and a mainstay at the Third Street Farmers’ Market.
The farm dinner at FIG accentuated the best Harry’s Berries has to offer — berries (obviously), beans and tomatoes. Essentially it is the best tasting and freshest produce you can get in the area. But it is one thing to dig a diamond out of the ground — someone still has to cut that gem.
The presentation was flawless right off the bat. The Juliet tomatoes were so sweet that they seemed more like a dessert than a first course. Another plate with pieces of Kampachi, watermelon and radish, adorned with seascape strawberries was light, pleasing, and everything you would expect from a great restaurant featuring amazing produce.
There was, however, plenty of yin to go with the meal’s light, fruity, and sweet yang. The bacon-wrapped bacon tastes as good as it sounds (if you’re into that kind of gastro-porn). A hunky counter balance of salted meat topped with greens and tomato made for a sophisticated yet kick ass B.L.T.
While berries are the namesake at Harry’s, it was the beans that found themselves on some of the best plates of the evening. The haricot verts, a thin French-style green bean, is deemed by Harry’s website as the Rolls Royce of beans. High and curious praise for a bean. Nonetheless, topped on the short rib made for the most delicious plate of the evening.
For dessert it was back to the berry. The charcuterie plate of confectioneries did not last long. Chocolate-raspberry tart, Chandler strawberry-banana milkshake, and Gaviota strawberries, malted panna cotta, shaved brownie is what the menu said. I saw it as an edible exclamation point.
Chef Garcia was dealt a winning hand with Harry’s Berries and delivered a top notch dinner. Mark your calendars for the next farm dinner at FIG featuring Weiser Family Farms Aug. 15.
If you go
101 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, Calif.
Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, “Tour de Feast.” To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.