If you’re on the west coast looking for a unique, locally sourced restaurant, look no further than the bay. Nestled in the San Francisco Bay is Jardinière, a restaurant whose menu is ever growing and changing with the season and what meat, dairy or produce is available locally.
Just because Jardinière is supplied by local farms doesn’t mean its ambiance is that of a farmer’s market. Jardinière is actually a very chic and romantic high end restaurant with an atmosphere to match. Enjoy an intimate dinner for two on the second floor balcony, or meet a group of friends for cocktails before heading over to the San Francisco Symphony across the street.
Jardinière’s menu is curated by owner Traci Des Jardins. Des Jardins is classically trained in French cuisine, and has worked in some of the most critically acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles, New York and of course, France. That’s not the only thing that sets her apart from the rest.
Des Jardins is committed to using only locally sourced organic foods for her many restaurants (she owns four including Jardinière). “When I started my cooking career at age 17, I never thought I'd become an environmental advocate. But I want my 2 1/2-year-old son, Eli, to eat delicious fish from the ocean and fresh produce straight from the farm,” Des Jardins told writer Deborah Grossman in a recent interview.
Jardinière is famous in the Bay area for its duck breast, which comes from Sonoma County Poultry. Sonoma County Poultry is a farm that raises the “Liberty Duck” which is a strain of Pekin duck developed in Denmark. They were developed specifically to give the duck a slower growth rate, making maintaining a healthy and happy duck a more achievable goal.
Des Jardins also ensures that all of her beef is not only locally sourced, but grass-fed and sustainably produced. Typical feedlots where grain-fed beef is raised can have an enormous amount of toxic runoff, whereas grass-fed or pastured beef is far less harmful to the environment and the cow itself. Small scale farming operations are seemingly more environmentally safe and humane in their treatment of animals.
Not only does Jardinière offer an ever evolving and changing menu of locally sourced food, they also have a huge commitment to recycling, and using less energy. Jardinière maintains their own compost bins and sends it off to local farms. This includes Full Belly Farms of Sacramento, which uses the compost to grow produce, which is often purchased by, (you guessed it), regular buyer Traci Des Jardins.
The amount of garbage that Jardinière sends to landfills has gone down from 2000’s 70%, to only 7% in recent days. They also cut back on their carbon footprint by getting energy from a local solar farm to supplement their conventional electricity source. In addition to that, they now use a green degreaser for kitchen clean-up in order to protect the local water supply from harsh cleaning chemicals.
The world has come to expect nothing less from Traci Des Jardins, the one-time runner-up on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters 3, and winner of San Francisco Magazine’s “Chef of the Year” award. Her creation, Jardinière, was named “Best Restaurant of the Year” in 1999 by Esquire Magazine. Yet, before the glamour and recognition of the world, she was a 17 year old farm girl from Firebaugh, California, learning to cook.
Raised on both Mexican and French cuisine, she learned to love both of her familial cultures and foods. Her love of fresh produce and meat also comes from her childhood, since both were frequently to be found in her family’s meals. It’s clear that Des Jardins was raised to appreciate fresh food.
Of course, the more local the ingredients, the fresher they are. The food at Jardinière is not only as fresh as it comes, it also becomes delicious and complex high end dishes designed by Traci Des Jardins. From their celebrated duck breast paired with confit, salted kumquat and french lentils, to tajarin with perigord truffle, parmesan, and reggiano cheese, the flavors are more delicious because you can trust that your ingredients were locally sourced and sustainably produced.
If you ever find yourself in the bay area looking for a special night out, consider Jardinière. There you will find delicious, fresh food in an upscale environment, from local farms and resources you can trust.