Near the corner of Loch Raven Boulevard and Yakona Road in Parkville, Md. lies a cozy restaurant that has carved its niche in the Baltimore County food scene.
Herb & Soul is a developing restaurant that takes pride in being one of the many “Farm-to-Table” restaurants in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Here they serve foods made with fresh produce from local farms while still being able to savor the hearty rich taste of authentic soul food.
“Herb & Soul is unique,” said executive chef and co-owner David Thomas. “Not only are we a farm-to-table restaurant but I think when you couple that with a southern fusion or a soul influenced menu, that just takes us completely out of the realm of what normal soul food carry-outs are.”
Farm-to-table restaurants commit to using primarily naturally-raised and organic ingredients sourced directly from neighboring farms and farmers’ markets.
“Our focus is on using as much local product as possible, not just produce but meats and whatever we can source, we’d like to get that as locally as possible,” Thomas said. “It’s safe to say 85 percent of our product is coming out of Maryland.”
Herb & Soul buys produce including collard greens, kale greens and zucchini from Maryland farms such as Talmar Gardens and Richardson Farms. However, when it comes to beef, they turn to Roseda Farm.
“We have the best genetics available to produce the most tender, juiciest eating experience that we can by using genetic selection,” said Dean Bryant, manager of Roseda Farm.
What sets Roseda Farm apart from large beef plant manufacturers is how they raise their cattle. The cows roam free over 250 acres of land where their diet consists mostly of grass, hay and protein. Roseda strives to offer their clients is the highest quality beef possible.
Aside from preparation, Thomas said that what animals were fed prior to slaughter can affect the taste of the meat that the animal produces. He said meats that come from animals that have been grass fed are a little gamier than meats that come from animals that were corn fed.
“When you put more grains and more corns into their diet, they’re building up fat quicker in a shorter period of time,” Thomas said. “The quicker the farmer can get it from birth to slaughter, the more money he makes. So the normal farmer is feeding that cow or calf corn diet from birth to slaughter.”
Thomas explained that these were some of the reasons that Herb & Soul buys meats produced from animals that were grass fed. Though it takes longer to produce these meats because it takes the animal more time to acquire the mass desired for slaughtering, the animals are humanely treated and cared for.
Co-owner and manager of Herb & Soul, Brandon Taylor, said that when initially opening the restaurant in September 2012, his idea was to open a restaurant that served southern food. However, after learning more about natural foods from Thomas, the two agreed that their recipes would use the most natural foods available, even if that meant spending a bit extra.
“It costs a little bit more money and some of the people that eat here don’t understand that because they haven’t really been educated on all natural food,” Taylor said. “It’s better for you, it tastes better and it’s a product that I can stand behind. At the end of the day, I have a clear conscious. I’m not feeding somebody something that I would not feed my son.”
Concluding their expansion renovations, Herb and Soul will reopen to the public on April 27, 2013. The upgrades are to include additional seating space, a stage for live jazz performances on Fridays and Saturdays, and free wifi, but one thing that isn’t set to change would be what they’re known for best: their delicious soul food.