Sunday, May 20, 2012

Harvest: Local Cuisine, Killer Bread Pudding

Sometimes on vacation I just want to enjoy a dinner out, to not take notes or photos of my meal. Yet sometimes that meal is so impressive that I still need to write about it, even though I can't provide as much detail as maybe I desire. The restaurant though should be recognized for its high quality, even if that mention is brief.

While in Louisville, we dined out one evening with my friend Fred and his wife, selecting a restaurant that none of us had ever been to before. We took a chance, dining at Harvest, a "locally grown restaurant," situated in the downtown NuLu district of East Market Street in Louisville. Led by Chef Coby Ming, their concept is compelling: "Our philosophy is very simple – to produce outstanding, regionally inspired, seasonal cuisine from the freshest and finest local produce in a casual fine dining setting. This is something that we are very passionate about and we are truly grateful to the community for supporting our locally grown ‘farm-to-table’ vision."

As for specifics, they pledge to source at least 80% of their food from farmers and growers within a 100-mile radius of the city. The farmers must be "...committed to sustainable farming practices and impeccable standards of animal welfare."  Adorning the walls of the interior of the restaurant, you will find large photos of the farmers they rely upon. The dominance of those photos is appealing.

They carry numerous craft beers, including local ones, as well as plenty of different bourbons. For their cocktails, they use seasonal local ingredients and also craft many of their own bitters, syrups, and tinctures. Their wine list did not possess any local Kentucky wines but the list is interesting, with an intriguing and diverse selection of wines from across the world. We chose to drink a 2009 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir ($78), an excellent Oregonian Pinot, priced at about twice the usual retail.

The dinner menu is essentially divided into Starters (about 8 choices from $6-$13) and Entrees (about 8 choices from $12-$19) with some daily specials. Many of the choices have a southern flair, showing some good creativity. The selection is diverse enough for both carnivores and vegetarians.

We began with the Daily Bread Board ($6), which were warm zucchini rolls and though I am not usually a fan of zucchini, these were quite tasty. A nice herbal taste, fluffy in texture with a crisp exterior. The Cheese Board ($13) with sweet pickled onion jam, peach butter, and crostini had local Kentucky cheeses, all three which were excellent, including a delightful and subtle blue cheese. My Salad ($10) contained house greens, asiago crisp, sunny side egg, pretzel crostini, and cracklins, topped by a spicy basil vinaigrette. An excellent blend of flavors and textures.

For my entree, I opted for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($19) with a chive hoecake and topped by a smoked peppercorn gravy. Moist, tender white meat chicken with a crispy, flavorful coating and a light and smoky gravy. An excellent fried chicken which should please anyone, and which satisfied me. I also got to taste the Crispy Pork Confit ($17) with pickled jalapeño-bacon grits, honey glazed vegetables, and a smoked onion jus. The pork was meaty and tender too, and the grits were especially intriguing, with a spicy kick to them.

For dessert, I had an amazing Bourbon Bread Pudding, which was piping hot, and bursting with flavor. The textures and tastes worked harmoniously and it was a decadent pleasure. One of the best bread puddings I have tasted in quite some time, and it is worth going to Harvest just for this dessert.

Service was very good, personable and attentive. Their philosophy is compelling, the food is tasty and prices are reasonable. I give Harvest a strong recommendation and would definitely return the next time I visit Louisville.

Harvest Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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