By Analiese Paik
Modern, tranquil, and full of natural light, Organic Planet is a refreshing addition to the Greenwich Avenue restaurant scene. The eclectic, budget-friendly menu has something for every eater – from vegan to omnivore to gluten-free – and is a reflection of seasonal, local-organic ingredients and artisan foods carefully selected by Chef Gerry Herrfurth and general manager Julien Jarry. Real food eaters will rejoice at discovering another hidden gem to mentally map as a “safe” place to eat when visiting or passing through Greenwich. We need an app for that!
“Sixty five percent of the menu is from USDA Certified Organic ingredients. The rest is ‘beyond organic’, but not certified” says Jarry. The Back Forty Farm, a 180-acre organic farm in Washington Depot, CT, is their main supplier of eggs, produce, pastured chicken and herbal tea. The King family of Old Greenwich owns the farm, which is an apprentice farm under Stone Barns Center for Agriculture’s Private Lands Project, a program that’s part of their Growing Farmers Initiative. Graduating apprentice Michael Krug was matched with The Back Forty in 2011 to manage food production at the farm while receiving ongoing mentoring from the Center. The Back Forty Farm’s produce and eggs can be purchased at the Old Greenwich Farmers’ Market each Wednesday from 3-6 pm starting May 29.
Chef Herrfurth is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and the former chef/owner of Organic Connection in Brewster, NY, a local/organic whole foods retailer and caterer. Herrfurth recently received the coveted Snail of Approval Award from Slow Food Metro North in recognition of his contributions to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of our food. Many small farms and artisan food producers supply the restaurant, some of which are a reflection of the chef’s Hudson Valley roots. Tonjes Farm Dairy in Callicoon, NY is a farmstead and artisan cheese supplier; Hemlock Hill Farm grows livestock in Westchester; Northeast Family Farms is a supplier of meats, poultry, grains and other specialty products from family farms; Ronnybrook Farm is a New York dairy farm; Organic Nectars produces vegan frozen desserts; and Berkshire Mountain Bakery supplies the restaurant’s artisan breads including their spelt sourdough pizza crust.
The first time I ate at Organic Planet, I was treated to a glass of freshly made sparkling maple tree sap tapped from trees at The Back Forty. The sap was chilled and carbonated at the restaurant, then served in a clear, stemless tumbler. Surprisingly, it was perfectly refreshing on a late winter’s day.
I returned twice with friends and family to experience the full range of their food and how it changed once spring started. A steaming bowl of local spring lamb curry was mildly spicy and full of beautiful bites of kabocha squash, potato, peas, carrots, bok choy seasoned with curry leaves and garlic. A true transitional dish!
Pizza made from a whole grain spelt crust was crisp and chewy with rich tomato flavor and fresh mozzarella cheese.
The Tricolor Salad of poached pears, local blue cheese, toasted walnuts, arugula, spinach and red cabbage dressed with a pomegranate-balsamic vinaigrette was a study in contrasting flavors- sharp, salty, sweet, and tart – with lots of satisfying crunch.
Mondays from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday. Sunday and Monday evenings are available for private parties and catered events.