Friday, February 15, 2008

Harvest: Valentine's Day

There are just so many restaurants out there that it seems impossible to visit them all. So sometimes you might not visit a restaurant, despite the fact that it has been around for many years. That was the case for me with Harvest, a Harvard Square restaurant that has been around for over thirty years. I had never been there before until last evening, for a Valentine's celebration.

Harvest has undergone changes over the years, including recently. They have a new chef, Mary Dumont, who was named a Best New Chef of 2006 by Food & Wine. Some of the past Chefs who have worked here include Lydia Shire, Chris Schlesinger, and Barbara Lynch. Harvest serves contemporary American cuisine, relying often on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

At a last minute, we made reservations at Harvest for four people for their Valentine's Day dinner. The other couple had been to Harvest numerous times people and recommended it.

Harvest had a Valentine's Day special, a Choice of Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert for $70 (excluding tax/tip). You could also get wine pairings, either a Half Glass Pairing ($85) or a Full Glass ($95). There were about five choices for each of the three courses. It was probably a bit pricey for the three-course dinner but then it was Valentine's Day and you do expect such inflated prices at many places. I would estimate that a normal three course meal here would run closer to $50.

We did not get wine pairings but I instead ordered a couple bottles of wine. They have a fairly lengthy and interesting wine list though there are few bottles below the $40-50 range. I ordered the 2005 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir, South Africa $64, which is roughly twice the retail price. This is one of my favorite wines though, an intriguing smoky Pinot that will surprise you. Unfortunately, they only had the one bottle so I had to order something different later on during dinner. So I chose a French Burgundy, in the same price range, though the exact name escapes me and it is not listed online on their website. This was a nice wine as well, much more subtle than the Hamilton Russell.

We received a bread basket before our meal arrived containing a variety of different breads, from cornbread to baguette slices. Some of the breads were even a bit warm. A very nice selection of fresh bread and I ate several pieces. Everyone else enjoyed the bread as well.

For an appetizer I chose the Sweetbread Ravioli with parslied carrots, Napa Cabbage, and garlic foam. This dish had three plump ravioli, with tender bits of sweetbreads, in a savory and light gravy, almost like a broth. The carrots were cooked just right too. An intriguing dish which I found very tasty. Two of the others tried the Ahi Tuna Tartare with Moroccan spices, lemon confit, and elephant garlic. This consisted of three small piles of tuna tartare with crisp toast and an intriguing oil. They both very much enjoyed this dish. And my wife had the Maine Lobster Salad with hearts of Palm, winter citrus & champagne thyme vinaigrette. There was actually plenty of lobster and I tried a piece that was sweet and nicely accented with the vinaigrette.

My entree choice was the Confit of Giannone Chicken with smoked bacon gnocchi, haricot vert & housemade pancetta. A scrumptious choice. The chicken was sliced into circular pieces, with a layer of crispy skin around the edge. It was moist, tender and quite delicious. And the gnocchi were fantastic with a definite smoky flavor that complemented the chicken. The dish was good-sized and I was glad I made the choice. Two of the others ordered the Grilled Breast of Long Island Duck with a variation of sunchokes, pomegranate & crispy duck rillette. The duck was cooked fairly rare and was excellent. I tried a piece and found it juicy and not greasy at all. The Roasted Atlantic Halibut with melted leeks, Peekytoe crab, rosemary & Marcona Almonds also came to our table and was pleasing as well.

For dessert, I ordered the cheese plate and received five different cheeses, some condiments and baguette slices. A nice mix of cheese types and they were all quite tasty. A nice ending to the meal. Someone else ordered the Valhrona Chocolate Mille Feuille which would have pleased any chocoholic. The chocolate was not overly sweet and certainly was satisfying. The Strawberries & Champagne was not what you might expect. It was somewhat of a flan type dessert topped by a jelly-like layer. An exquisite taste that matched well the flavors.

Service was generally very good. My only minor quibble is that when the cheese plate arrived, our server did not tell me the names and types of the cheeses. I had to stop him before he left and ask him to identify the cheeses. Presentation of all the dishes was quite good. The food was high quality and delicious. Everyone in my party was pleased with their meals. I would definitely return here and would recommend others try it as well.

Harvest in Cambridge

1 comment:

Taster B said...

Sounds really good--especially your entrée. I always think the mark of a good restaurant is how they handle a simple ingredient like chicken and make it extraordinary.