By Kristyn Lak Miller
Home is where the (organic) heart is for many of us striving for sustainability. We have organic food in the fridge, organic clothes in the closet, and organic accessories throughout the home from the sheets, to the towels, to the throw on the couch.
But what happens when we leave the house?
Dining out is one of the biggest challenges in an organic lifestyle as most restaurants continue to serve conventional, non-organic food. There are exceptions—exceptional exceptions, as it happens. New Hampshire’s Seacoast (where one of Garnet Hill’s two offices in the state is located) has a number of organic restaurants; here’s an introduction to a few favorites worth a visit for locals and visitors alike.
Blue Moon Evolution, Exeter
Serving organic food since 1995, Blue Moon Evolution has evolved over the years to become a dinner-only restaurant committed to providing fare that’s both nutrient-dense and sumptuously satisfying for everyone, vegans to committed carnivores. To get the good goods, they rely on a network of local farmers as well as their own organic farm, which supplies the restaurant with everything from garlic to greens. The highly seasonal menu changes often, and always includes nightly specials—earlier this April, Pan-Seared Kellie Brook Pork Belly tempted guests with its smoked honey and guajillo chili glaze served alongside a rich and creamy parsnip purée and pucker-up pickled Maine blueberries.
Laney & Lu Café, Exeter
In a rather tiny spot, well-hidden unless you know where to look (hint: look behind Serendipity!), Laney & Lu is out to feed your body—and your soul. Each exciting vegan or vegetarian dish is comprised of local, fresh, and whole ingredients, and most everything is certified organic. Their comprehensive breakfast-to-dessert menu is across-the-board tempting, and nothing is ho-hum. Take the Colorful Curry Bowl, a vibrant and complex symphony of flavors and textures—its base of curry-infused rice or quinoa is topped with a veritable cornucopia (spinach, carrots, peppers, purple cabbage, green onions, and avocados!) along with raw sesame seeds, house-made sunflower seed veggie burger, and Thai-spiced cashews then dressed with a savory almond-miso sauce.
The Fresh Press, Portsmouth
Just steps from the center of downtown Portsmouth, The Fresh Press dishes out, well, wellness. The mostly meatless menu includes juices, smoothies, açai bowls, quinoa bowls, wraps, and salads—their use of organic ingredients supports The Fresh Press’ belief that there are no compromises to good health. The Skinny Scout Smoothie, for example, is a play on a refreshing and decadent mint milkshake that earns its “skinny” moniker by replacing the ice cream (and green food coloring!) with a blend of almond milk, spinach, banana, dates, raw cacao nibs, maca powder, mint, and peppermint oil.
Madeline’s Truly Organic Kitchen, Portsmouth
Tucked in the way, way back of Portsmouth Health Food Center, Madeline’s Truly Organic Kitchen is a counter-service eatery with just a few stools lined up along a short bar by a window. They use fresh, organic, and local ingredients (sometimes from the owner’s own garden) to make smoothies and meatless or meaty sandwiches; they also have several grab-and-go cases featuring all kinds of prepared meals, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. A stand-out for their vegetarian twists on classics, the Tofu Reuben is their best-selling sandwich—it’s an ooey-gooey masterpiece of perfectly grilled rye bread, soy or conventional cheese, tangy sauce, and house-marinated baked tofu.
Flatbread Company, Portsmouth and Hampton
Flatbread Company began serving oven-baked flatbread pizzas—made with organic ingredients—when they opened in Amesbury, Massachusetts in 1998. Nearly two decades later, they now have locations across the country, including two on New Hampshire’s Seacoast. At the heart of each location is a wood-burning oven, with a primitive and primal pull that captures the attention of both kids and adults. The menu includes two organic salads and about a dozen flat-out fabulous flatbreads, from the Nitrate-Free Pepperoni & Mushroom Flatbread to the carnivore-converting Vegan Pizza which tops their chewy-crispy-smoky organic crust with wood-fired cauldron tomato sauce, caramelized onions, mushrooms, Kalamata olives, house-made garlic oil, and a sprinkling of organic herbs.
Roots Juice Bar, Dover
As the name implies, Roots Juice Bar serves an array of juices—and that’s just the beginning. Its 100-percent vegan menu also includes all-day breakfast, smoothies, and a lunch line-up with wraps, salads, bowls, burgers, and soup. Most everything is made to order, using local and organic ingredients; they’re also committed to serving those with special dietary requests, like gluten-free. Though dedicated to good health, they know it’s okay to splurge occasionally, so while you can order Detox Juice (a healthy combo of kale, cucumber, beet, apple, and ginger), you can also get Good Morning Cakes (grilled slices of house-made cake loaf topped with—wait for it—coconut cream, maple syrup, and cinnamon sugar).
Serving organic fare seems like a most natural idea for restaurants. To get more (and more!) to go organic, make the request when dining out and support already-organic eateries when possible.
Kristyn Lak Miller is a freelance writer (and Garnet Hill aficionado!) based in Portsmouth, NH with an appreciation for genuinely good food; Kristyn lives so sustainably, her daughter was born on Earth Day.