A restaurant that serves organic ice cream and cleans the kitchen with eco-friendly products is not out to green-wash you because saving the planet is so in right now. Applewood, the wholesome home-style restaurant that has left a large, non-carbon footprint in Park Slope, has a very real, down to earth mantra.
“We’re conscious, not militant,” says Chicago-born owner Laura Shea, who opened the restaurant with husband and native New Yorker David in September 2004. “Our message is that what we’re doing is important.” In the intimate, butter-yellow restaurant, the Sheas are creating low-impact agricultural menus that feature humanely raised livestock and support nearby farms like Red Hook Community Farm. It’s “going green” without needing to pour wheatgrass shots and plate raw veggies. With an emphasis on procuring local organic food, the Sheas have successfully managed to design a setting that is welcoming to fastidious foodies and the ecologically industrious. “We are so far from vegan,” Laura quips. “This is the house that Pork built.”
The ingredients used at Applewood come from farms that have been personally inspected by the owners. After deciding that the cooperative farms weren’t always up to par, the two have taken it upon themselves to see things from the roots up. They monitor the quality and sustainability of the ingredients through the moment they enter the Applewood kitchen. And for the organic newbies who might believe this to be solely about the produce—think again. Everything, from the meat (hormone free and butchered on site) to the cheese (which is rBST free, meaning the cows that produced the milk to make the cheese were fed hormone-free food) to the wine (which is made from untreated grape crops), must merit the best possible quality.
Following such a stringent course also involves using the entire animal (buying the whole animal relieves the farmers of the less popular parts that are left over when pieces are sold one at a time), which lends a hand to creativity in the kitchen; with different fresh products coming in every day, Dave is constantly reinventing the menu. While the varying schedule makes it hard to pick a favorite, the one dish that comes highly recommended regardless of the season is the grilled Vermont goat. (Side note: all of the entrées are filled with the most irresistible locally-sourced vegetables available.)
To further your education (or to just enjoy an interesting evening out) stop by for the Meet the Farmer evenings, which feature meat or produce from one of the Shea’s personal picks of the area’s best farms. With a four course tasting menu and an informational overview, these sell-out sessions are well worth booking in advance.
How to get there: Take the F train to 7th ave and exit near 9th St. and 7th Ave., then turn left on 11th St. Click the HopStop link below for directions from anywhere on Manhattan.(Applewood, 501 11th St., Brooklyn, 718.788.1014, applewoodny.com)
Photos: Courtesy of Michael Harlan Turkell