A few years ago, Jason Miller and Michael Mercer noticed a hole in Leesburg’s restaurant scene. The quaint town was surrounded by farms and vineyards, and yet there was no farm-to-table restaurant — no restaurant that seemed dedicated to relying on local food sources.
“There was nothing like this, which seemed strange,” remembers Jason. “It was important to us; we wanted to be local. We wanted to be able to go to the farms and meet the people we were getting our food from… So, we opened The Wine Kitchen.”
Since it opened in November 2008, The Wine Kitchen has featured a variety of local produce, meats, and wines — and Jason and Michael have worked with about 20 local farms — including Ayrshire Farm, Martin’s Angus Beef, Baker Farms, Singing Frog Farms, and Great Country Farms.
A difficult aspect of buying local food is you have to work with the seasons and what the local farms are able to provide. Yet, the owners of The Wine Kitchen and their Executive Chef, Justin Garrison, step up to this challenge — changing the menu to feature foods that are in season.
“I love it because everyday is a challenge,” Justin says. “You could go out somewhere in the winter and get a salad with tomatoes, but you know its not locally sourced — and it could be fabulous! But that’s just not what we do… Jason and Mike have built this place on what they believe in, and on what a true farm-to-fork restaurant is.”
While Jason believes it’s important to support local farms, he’s quick to point out that this is not the only reason they choose to buy local: “It’s a higher quality product. I mean, buying local just because it’s local seems silly. It’s got to be good quality, and we’re lucky that we have that here.”
Justin agrees: “Local food is easy to cook. The Wine Kitchen’s motto is ‘Eat, Drink, Simply.’ When you’re getting fresh, fresh products, you don’t have to put a million ingredients in a dish. We want to bring out the natural flavor of the foods we are working with.”
This restaurant profile was included in The Piedmont Environmental Council’s 2012 Buy Fresh Buy Local guide for Loudoun County.