I had already eaten a potato-and-bacon cake topped with sour cream and dotted with chive blossoms; crabmeat perched on sushi rice with toasted nori and avocado; and a few bites of tender pork tostada with smoked-tomato sauce, corn and black beans. I was under the impression that I was full.
A plate of goat "Wellington" was still to come, though, and I figured I could eat just a little more. I awaited its arrival with drink in hand — a combination of whiskey, orange peel and just the right amount of elegant St-Germain elderflower liqueur — and soaked in the welcome early evening warmth as I scanned the sights of Randolph's Merchants Row.
Black Krim Tavern, named for an heirloom tomato, has been around for more than five years, a long stretch for a farm-to-table restaurant in a town with a population of fewer than 5,000. Operated by chef-owner Sarah Natvig, Black Krim serves vegetables from its very own farm — Pebble Brook in Brookfield, run by Natvig's husband, Chip — and meat sourced mainly from friends and neighbors.
To keep up with the ever-changing local supply, Sarah Natvig creates an entirely new menu each week. In spring, she highlights the first crisp and fiery radishes. Now she's preparing for the transition to mid-season crops, such as cucumbers and tender young squash. And dealing with the influx of greens. "We've got five kinds that are coming in: kale, chard, mesclun, spinach and lettuce," she says. Meanwhile, the promise of tomatoes drifts on the horizon.
With hardly any storage space and a need to minimize costly waste, the only sensible choice is to rotate the menu, says Natvig, who also craves the opportunity to keep learning skills in the kitchen. Her background includes 15 years of studying and working at the New England Culinary Institute, mostly in the realm of restaurant management. At her restaurant's inception, she didn't consider herself a chef, Natvig says. But after a "divorce" from her original business partner, it was a role she needed to fill.
"I just had to [cook]," she says. "I realized either I'm going to figure out the food thing, or I'm not going to have a restaurant anymore."
So she made her way behind the stove. And that's how I ended up with my plate of tender goat, its garnish of asparagus spears and a quenelle of portobella pâté streaked with golden evening sunlight.
My first forkful wedded smashed potatoes with lush confited meat from Randolph's Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, which arrived at the restaurant by way of Vermont Chevon. The latter business aggregates goats from dairy operations — mostly young bucks born to milking does — brings them to be processed and distributes the meat to restaurants.
All of a sudden, my hunger came roaring back. If my dinner date noticed that each time he turned his head, the bowl inched closer to my side of the table, he was polite enough not to mention it.
Because of Black Krim's ever-evolving menu, future diners won't find this particular goat Wellington. And for that, I am sorry. But here's why it's a good thing: When chefs run their restaurants the way Natvig does hers, you never have to worry about getting the sad vestiges of something wilting its way into oblivion. Plenty of other places offer the tried and true. Fresh food, prepared with creativity, is the name of the game here.
And next week, Natvig says, there's gonna be rabbit.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Bucking the Trend"
Bio: Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose,...Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.more