Local chefs are tilling and sowing whatever misplaced green space they can get their hands on. "I was walking past what was a vacant lot next to the restaurant," says Lucky's Café chef and owner Heather Haviland. "I just realized that we clean it, we mow it; it's a big, open grassy area that really just sits there." That was five years ago, and diners have been enjoying the veggies of her labor ever since.
4277 W. 150th St., Cleveland,
Four raised, 4-foot-by-12-foot beds
on the patio
A 4-foot-by-12-foot plot adjacent to the restaurant
A quarter acre out back, plus six plots in the parking lot, and a potted herb garden
"We decided, Let's go for it," Haviland says. "We got funding from a number of different organizations." Donors supplied wood for beds, compost and even money for scholarships that pay neighborhood kids to help out.
"It's organic and it's much more fresh, [with] more aroma," explains chef and owner Sunny Ting. Plus, he says of gardening, "I love it. It's therapy — meditate and relax."
"It's the basis of a lot of the food we do here," says chef Ellis Cooley, who started the grass-roots garden last year, "taking really good local ingredients that are really easy to do and just letting them speak for themselves."
Heirloom tomatoes for
canning, romaine lettuce
for salads and peppers for
hot sauce. She also rotates
new items in and out. Last
year, she grew the flowers
that graced Lucky's tables.
Thai cuisine staples such as Thai sweet basil and chili pepper, mint, tomatoes, scallions and string beans
Heirloom tomatoes, varieties of eggplant and squash, peas, beans and root crops
ON THE MENU
Penne pesto pasta ($12.95). "That's basil from our garden and little cherry tomatoes from the garden," Haviland says. "And people just freak out about it."
Kra prow ($17) with sauteed chicken, veggies and basil leaves tossed in chili garlic sauce. The homegrown Thai basil is the star of the show.
Everywhere. "We're definitely going to have sliced tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil," Cooley says. "I get really excited about each vegetable as it comes up. We haven't had tomatoes on the menu since last year."