The farm-to-table movement has been an evolution in dining that has stood the test of time. It is no longer just a trend for self-proclaimed foodies indulging in epicurean delights, rather a reasonable ideology adopted by the masses, who care both about nutrition and the environment. But what happens when the concept itself is so embedded in the English lexicon that it becomes borderline cliché? How does the next restaurant that features entrées made with locally procured produce separate itself from the rest?
By merging the restaurant and farm into one, providing a unique experience that goes beyond what’s on the menu—which is exactly what CoLab Kitchen has done.
Walking through the front doors of the new establishment in downtown Stuart, guests are greeted by a small market boasting refrigerated cases full of fresh and colorful produce and homemade items including beef and chicken broth, organic vegan glaze, vegan cheddar and ricotta cheeses, sausages, pickles, mustards, and sauces. Farm-style tables and benches are adorned with products either made in-house or obtained by local vendors like Hani Honey and The Roasted Record. To the right, patrons can order pastries, coffee, tea, and high-quality cuts of meat acquired from Florida Fresh Meat Company.
Behind the market is a cozy nook equipped with sofas and love seats—CoLab Kitchen is nothing if not inviting. The decor is crisp and rustic but without an air of pretention. The color scheme is primarily taupe, gray, and white, but there are splashes of blue and turquoise to remind us that this is South Florida, after all.
The menu includes ample offerings for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. But a fan favorite seems to be the brisket. Smoked in-house and procured from Creekstone Farms in Orlando, the brisket sandwich is prepared in a horseradish barbeque and topped with tomato jam, arugula, and aged cheddar. Other popular dishes include soba noodles layered with baby bok choy, cucumber, green onion, sesame seed, soy, rice vinegar, and ginger, and a grilled cheese sandwich oozing with aged cheddar, Gruyère, and pecorino, just begging to be dipped in the tomato soup that accompanies it.
The cherry on top is arguably the outdoor patio, an expansive area of pure relaxation. There are firepits, a full bar nestled inside an aquamarine truck, a stage for entertainment, lawn chairs for chilling, and activities like painting and cornhole.
CoLab Kitchen feels much like a comfortable home, with flair. It all began when Pam Huizenga, owner of CoLab Farms in Indiantown, approached Chef Jason Stocks of District Table in Port Salerno. “Pam’s love of fresh food, natural ingredients, and healthful eating is what started this,” says Laurrie Wood, general manager of both CoLab Kitchen and District Table.
CoLab Kitchen had its soft opening in November and, as of December, was easing into a full opening. “We’re being cautious right now,” says Wood. “We want to maintain the integrity of the food and provide the best guest experience. That’s the highest priority.” 100 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Stuart; 772.872.6243