These days, there’s a lot of talk about farm-to-table cuisine. But Chef David Bancroft has taken it one step further by bringing the farm to his restaurant—literally. Nestled in the heart of downtown Auburn, Alabama, Acre sits in the middle of a 43,000-square-foot (1-acre) urban farm planted with everything from apples to zipper peas. “I wanted to take one acre of land, and make it as sustainable as possible,” Bancroft says.
As you might expect, the menu at Acre is a celebration of all things local. What he can’t grow in the restaurant’s garden, Bancroft sources from nearby farmers, including beef, cornmeal, cheese, and even honey from an Auburn University professor who moonlights as a beekeeper. Everything is fresh and seasonal, and nothing goes to waste.
Bancroft’s passion for farming came from a childhood spent in his grandfather’s garden. Since then, he’s been planting everything he can get his hands on from fourth-generation heirloom butterbean seeds to strawberries, okra, and watermelons.
“I had no idea I was so good at growing watermelons,” Bancroft says. “I planted four seeds last year, and we had more than 200 melons! We had watermelon everything last summer, from salsa and margaritas to salads and sorbets.”
If you can make it to Acre for a meal this summer, you may be lucky enough to find his Fried Green Tomato stack on the menu. Layered with house-made pimiento cheese and topped with fresh Gulf crab and some basil from the restaurant’s garden, it’s a dish you’ll want to eat over and over again. Fortunately you can, because he’s been kind enough to share the recipe so you can make it at home!
Acre is located at 210 East Glenn Avenue, Auburn, Alabama 36830. For more information, call 334-246-3763, or visit acreauburn.com.