The idea of freshness being more than just flavor, drives every growing farm to table movement.
At Sala & Betty, a North Austin restaurant opened by Teresa Wilson in February 2015, freshness is an integral part of every meal they serve. Wilson has been working in the culinary industry for 35 years. At the start of her career, Wilson began working at an Italian restaurant, Basil’s, and eventually ran, Aquarelle, a French bistro. When she opened Sala & Betty with her daughter, Diana Salazar, she aimed to offer farm fresh food in a casual setting.
“As consumers, if we just make that first step of understanding where our food comes from, it’s huge.” Wilson said.
Most of Sala & Betty’s main sources are Texas based, if not Austin. They buy from Strube Ranch meats, poultry from Cobb Creek and Dewberry, quail from Texas Quail Farms, eggs from Soncrest and produce from Tecolote and Boggy Creek. Farm to Table and the Farm Patch Market supply some of the remaining ingredients. Many of the drinks on menu are fermented at local breweries nearby — Live Oak, Lone Pint and Hop and Grain to name a few.
“(Teresa has) always been about the local farmers and organic growth,” Salazar said. “We want our patrons to know where the food comes from.”
Wilson’s farm to table restaurant is only one of Austin’s thriving farm to table restaurants. These eateries are made possible by locally sourced distributors who first came to Austin around 2000. Early members of this movement in the capital city include fishermen Roberto Sau Miguel and Sebastien Bonneu from Countryside Farm, and John Lash, whose Farm to Table company began distributing locally produced food to restaurants, cafeterias and grocers around this time.
The Sala & Betty menu focuses on contemporary American cuisine with a fusion of Italian, French and Mexican. One of the popular items is the Betty. A sandwich with slow roasted pork shoulder, smoked tomato aioli, mixed greens and green chile queso.
For gluten-free diners, the bun on a sandwich order can be replaced with a cauliflower tortilla, and vegetarians can substitute grilled veggies for meat. There are plenty of classic plated options as well, like blackened red snapper. Meals run about $10-20.
“It’s unpretentious, it’s familiar,” Wilson said. “At night, we do some elevated plates, but still it’s not anything too fancy.”
Ronald Flecha, a customer and fan of Sala & Betty, said the kitchen never fails to deliver. He gets something different every time, and the kitchen’s seasonal changes offer an experience that doesn’t disappoint.
“To be honest, if I lived around here, I’d be here every week,” Flecha said. “Seldom have a found a place I could go, relax, have a really good glass of wine and have a plate of food that is exceptional without having to break the bank.”
Wilson said she believes fresh food provides many benefits to consumers. Serving fresh food also has positive affects further up the chain.
“You’re supporting your farmer, they’re out there, that’s what they do for a living,” Wilson said. “It’s important for us to know where our food comes from.”