If you like knowing where your food comes from, eating out can be very frustrating. Although many menus have token references to how the food is sourced, few have gone as far as Dino in Washington, DC. Using the website Real Time Farms, Dino has made transparent the source of its entire menu. Eight other DC restaurants–Dino is the only one in Cleveland Park–have joined the site. With over 70 eateries nationwide, the Real Time Farms seems to be gaining the most traction in DC, Los Angeles, and its home state of Michigan. According to site co-founder Cara Rosaen, “Customers can now have a real relationship with who grew their food and how it was grown.”
Dean Gold, owner of Dino, has spent a lot of time “fiddling and fussing” on the site. Gold’s work on the site is apparent. Every menu listed ingredient appears to be sourced. The entire menu includes 16 different farms, 14 different “artisans”, and 13 different distributors. For each of these classifications, you can dig deeper into the company to find out more information. At the very least you can get address and website information, though some farms have quite a bit of great information. One of the more interesting things for me was to look at everything that Dino does in house. This list includes everything from the house relish to the delicious black truffle butter. Rosaen notes, “Dean is very serious about his sourcing and about consumer education. He is passionate about the quality of his ingredients, and wants to share his passion with his diners.”
I asked Dino owner, Dean Gold why is was important for him to get listed and he replied, “I believe in the farmers and the other suppliers we use. It is hard on the website to give them any credit in a way that resonates…” That said, he offers some caution for other restauranteurs about joining the site. ”[Join] only if you are willing to let people know who you buy from. There are restaurants that show how green washed they are by only listing a few items as “local” when they in fact majority not local or sustainable.”
I am not a huge organic and sustainable eater (faux pas, I know), but even I think this is really cool. I can imagine if sustainability, organic foods, and local farms are important to you, the information on this site is unbelievable.
Dino: 3435 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20008, (202) 686-2966