New Year’s Eve at Harvest, a review

Last night, instead of NYE dinner at The Red House, we changed things up a bit and went to Harvest.  Both restaurants are in Harvard Square, Cambridge, but they are pretty different.  Harvest is fancier, the portions generally smaller, but still every bit wonderful and delightful.

I adore Harvest, even though I don’t eat there too often.  I’ve never been disappointed by their seasonal menus.  Although, I think my opinion of the restaurant is slightly skewed.  I took a special one-time cooking class with Mary Dumont, who is Harvest’s executive chef.  The class had a bonus appearance by Brian Mercury, who is  Harvest’s executive pastry chef.  They were both lovely people with infectious personalities and an obvious love for what they do.  It’s hard to dislike food created by them.

Last year, I had kicked myself slightly for not doing NYE dinner at Harvest.  The menu sounded amazing.  As such, I had my heart set on NYE dinner this year at Harvest from the get-go.  And it did not disappoint.

IMG_20141231_175758IMG_20141231_175805My order was: scallop crudo, mussels soup, agnolotti, and pineapple torte.  I had the chance to taste the ravioli, the venison, the steak, and the strawberries and chocolate dessert.

I was uncertain about the scallop crudo.  I love scallops but I’ve never had them uncooked.  The scallops themselves were really mild tasting, clean, and sweet.  If anything, it was the yuzu flavor that wasn’t to my tastes.  It was an almost harsh citrus flavor and definitely mouth puckering.  It made the fennel shavings taste less like fennel and more like yuzu.

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A couple of people at my table had the compressed apple dish.  I did not taste it, but I was told that it tasted very good.

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My picture of the mussels soup is missing, which makes me sad.  I remember trying to take it.  So, either the picture didn’t take or I managed to delete it.  Normally, I don’t liked mussels.  But, the dish sounded delicious and I was willing to experiment in a restaurant that I have a good opinion of.  The mussels were steamed and served on top of the soup.  I had about five mussels in my bowl, which is a reasonable portion for a second course.  The flavor?  Amazing!  I’m so glad that I asked our server what he thought of it.  The coconut broth seasoned with saffron, mint, lime leaf, and mint was really warm and comforting.  I couldn’t tell that there was saffron in it.  (To be fair, I’m not sure I can ever really tell when saffron is in my food.)  I think our server said there was also lemongrass in it, which I would believe.  I did my very best to eat to the last drop without looking like an idiot.

I almost ordered the ravioli but didn’t because, in a conversation with my best friend last week, I was told not to order the ravioli if I was going to have the agnolotti.  There was a fear that I’d get too full on pasta and then wouldn’t have room for dessert.  (Hey, we know what our priorities are.  *grin*)  I did have a bit of ravioli off my sister’s plate, and I’m happy to report that the hay-smoked kale was delicious.  Actually, everyone at my table ordered the ravioli except me.  One of our diners reported that her kale was too smokey, but the others did not have that issue.  I guess I’d explain the flavor as grilled kale except that the kale hadn’t actually been grilled.

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My third course, the agnolotti, was delicious.  I love chestnuts.  My only disappointment was the serving size.  It was a little too small.  There were only sixes pieces of pasta.  I realize that they are laborious to make, but I think the dish could have been rounded out with some veggies.  So, I could have had both the ravioli and the agnolotti without overstuffing myself.  (In the end, I’m still glad that I had the mussels soup instead.)  In hindsight, my sister and I should have split our dishes and shared.

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Meanwhile the steak and the venison dishes were more generously sized.  The venison dish was pretty awesome.  However, it would not have been a good dish to order for the faint of heart.  The venison was served very rare but with a great crust seared on.  The poached pears were too boozy for me and for my sister but the wheatberries were well prepared.

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The steak was delicious too, and a better choice for the less adventurous.  It was also about three times the size of my agnolotti dish.  haha.

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For desserts, half of our table ordered the Taza chocolate with strawberries.  Personally, I had imagined strawberries dipped in chocolate even though desserts at Harvest are much more creative than that.  It ended up being a sort of chocolate torte with bits of strawberries and strawberry sauce, with small chunks of pistachio cake (at least, we think it was a pistachio cake).

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Meanwhile, I swear I was inhaling the pineapple torte because it was so good.

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There was a crisp on top that I am convinced was a sort of fruit leather made with pineapple juice.  The pineapple torte was pineapple slices baked on one side, and the cakey bit on the other.  It was served on top of a roasted cashew butter, and I think the dark buttons of sauce on the plate were the caramel.  It wasn’t normal caramel though.  It was been flavored with something that none of us could name and it had a consistency like the cashew butter.

I literally tried to eat every last bite, short of licking my plate.

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Overall, dinner was a success.  Everyone left happy.  It was a great way to end 2014, yes?

My friends and I now have a standing date to return to Harvest on a Thursday for their bar menu.  They serve bacon buns on Thursday, courtesy of Brian Mercury.  How can anyone who is omnivore and not gluten-free say no to bacon buns?

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