The title “Shimotsuke Farm” harkens back to the original name of Tochigi prefecture and gives the diner the feeling that they are going back to their local roots. Located in Utsunomiya, Tochigi’s capital, this farm-to-table restaurant prides itself on only serving fresh local ingredients. Each month the menu changes depending on what is in season. When looking at that month’s course menu offerings you can learn exactly which farm each vegetable came from. In addition, at each table is a booklet introducing the farms the restaurant sources from including pictures of the farmers with their crops.
Not only do you have the benefit of eating fresh and local, but the food is unbelievably delicious and well crafted. Restaurants like this around the world can end up charging ¥5000 or more per plate, but this restaurant offers inventive food for a great price. The lunch menu includes an all-you-can-eat salad bar, a choice of a vegetable appetizer or soup, the main course, rice and miso soup, dessert, and drink for only ¥1400. If available, I highly recommend the Bagna Cauda. This array of vegetables grilled or steamed to bring out their optimal flavor are then drizzled with a garlic anchovy sauce that leaves your mouth watering for more. This main course is served with a side of two crostini to help catch all that sauce that managed to escape the vegetables.
Reservations required at least two days before in order to take advantage of the dinner course menu. The dinner course menu changes each month, but in the month of June it included a plate with a sample of three hors d'oeuvres, a salad with prosciutto, a chicken course, a red meat course, a small pizza, steamed vegetables, rice and miso soup, and a dessert with seasonal fruits. All dishes, except for the dessert, come with plentiful seasonal vegetables. The dinner course is ¥4000. They also welcome parties and have party course menu.
While this restaurant is mostly vegetarian friendly, there are still quite a few meat dishes on the menu. If you are vegetarian I would highly recommend this restaurant to you, but please be sure to inform your waiter when you make your reservations and inquire about substitutions. If they can’t accommodate your request in their course menu, there are still plenty of options to choose from on the ala carte menu.