Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Harvest - Meet your dinner

I recently finished reading a book called In Defense Of Food, by Michael Pollan. Among many other messages in the book the one that stood out in my mind was that of eating "food". I know you're all thinking, "Uhhh, Jessica. We don't eat anything other than food. What kind of epiphany is this?". What Michael was really saying by things like "eat food" or even basing his book on defending food is that we've recently been eating things that may not really qualify as, well, food.

I'm not on a soapbox here. I don't spend boatloads of money on certified organic things. I won't even walk into places like Whole Foods (more like hole in your wallet). I try to buy local if it's affordable, though I admit I typically choose cheap over local. But when all is said and done, I really do like being able to recognize my food.

In Pollan's book he says something like, if your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, maybe you shouldn't either (I guess if you're 15 and reading this you should add another "great" to the equation...but you get his drift). I like cooking. I like following food traditions. My grandmom's pierogies are made with potato, egg, sour cream, butter, flour, salt and pepper. I would chose them over a bag of Cheetos any day of the week.

I'm not sure if Ivor Chodkowski and Peter Kuhl, the owners of Harvest, know what their great grandmothers used to cook. I'm not sure if they know Michael Pollan. But I am sure that they know their ingredients, and even know the farmers that grew them. Pictures of those farmers are displayed on Harvest's walls. A map of those farms hangs prominently in the middle of the restaurant. And aside from giving you their cell phone numbers, all the farmers' info is right there for you to see.

Sometimes I'm wary of places that boast "farm to table" eats. Often I find the price tags to be outrageous. I know they're saying, "Shouldn't you pay more to support local farms?". Maybe I should, but sometimes I don't. Harvest didn't make me choose. All of the entrees, with the exception of their steak, were under $20.

We started with some cocktails. I had the Kentucky Champagne ($7). Nick had a glass of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year ($12). My Kentucky Champagne was, and I don't use this word often, whimsical. It was Old Forrester, Tuaca, Ale 8 and lemon peel, mixed together and served in a champagne glass...but of course. I thought it was delicious. Nick thought it was, and I quote, "dreadful". I would, and will, try and make it for my next party. Nick can drink the Old Forrester on the rocks...as he often does anyway.

We shared the daily bread board to start($6). Five hog jowl scones shared the bread board with some sorghum butter. The scones were amazing. The hog jowl added some texture and just enough meaty flavor. The scone batter itself was near perfection. The scones melted in your mouth like a true southern biscuit should. The butter was good enough. Slightly sweet and creamy. I thought it should have been served a bit cooler (it was a little oozy) but all in all a good accompaniment.

For our mains the hubby ordered the fried chicken ($19) and I ordered the pulled pork ($17). Nick's fried chicken was delicious. It was served atop a hoecake with a mound of greens. The chicken was smothered in a white gravy. His only complaint was that $19 seemed a bit steep for fried chicken. "The seasoning is wonderful. I still can't put my finger on that one spice that makes it different. The chicken is moist. The dish is a success, but they aren't exactly reinventing the wheel." said Nick.

My pulled pork was to die for. It was served with a side of savory bread pudding (forgive me for this but OMG was that bread pudding good) and topped with strands of dark greens in a slaw of sorts. The dish was also drizzled with a very yummy and light herb oil. The pork wasn't doused in sauce as too often is the case and the smokey, sweet flavor that pork naturally has shone through. The slaw added a crisp respite from the rich pork and pudding. I was a happy girl.

We almost caved in and ordered dessert. There were 3 or 4 options along with some desert cocktails that all looked delicious, but our full bellies got the best of us and we called it a night.

The wait staff and service in general was top notch. Everyone was attentive and extremely nice. It was very full at 7pm on a Saturday so I recommend reservations.

The decor was a bit sparse. I liked the portraits of the local farmers. I like the idea of the map but honestly it was a bit of an eyesore. The rustic wooden tables were nice and the layout was fine. I never really give much thought to decor but even I noticed the place could use a splash of color.

I think that Harvest will enjoy many years of success. In my opinion the cuisine was honest, delicious, fresh, and best of all, it was, as Michael Pollan might put it, real food.

I have to add one more thing before I go. The cuisine at Harvest seemed VERY reminiscent of the cuisine at Hillbilly Tea. If you're reading this post because you're thinking of going to Harvest but still haven't tried Hillbilly Tea I highly recommend it as well. Their service isn't as fantastic as Harvest's, but the cuisine is amazing and the prices are almost ridiculously low for the high quality.

Harvest on Urbanspoon

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