Mac and cheese can be pretty traditional everywhere you go. Sure, sometimes you might get a fun, surprise ingredient like truffle oil, lobster, bacon, or jalapeno, but usually it’s fairly safe. But, if you’re Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant in Greenwich, safe and traditional aren’t even in their vocabulary. Instead, their EPIC baked mac and cheese is made from fresh, housemade cavatelli mixed with Cabot white cheddar, fontina cheese, and the pièce de résistance, a hearty amount of short ribs that have been braising in red wine all day, all topped with crispy, crunchy bread crumbs. This awesomeness set the tone for the night of the special pre-opening party!
During the night we met Vicente Siguenza, owner and manager of the amazing Cava, Scena, and 55 Wine Bar & Restaurant. And, we were geeked out to meet the man behind the food, Chef Eben Leonard. He came out with both our dishes and talked about how he prepared them and how they had evolved over time. Just the day before Eben and his sous chefs cooked every single dish on the menu and all the staff at the restaurant had to taste them. Our server that night said she was throwing the food down like a rock star at first, but then she soon realized the Herculean task set before her and took it a bit easier. The tasting is part of what sets Harvest aside from many other restaurants. They want the staff to know what they are bringing to the table and they want the staff to be able to help people order.
Talking a bit more about the menu, it’s divided up into a few parts that will have you coming back for more. Raw specials (like tartare), snacks and shares, starters, seconds, wood fire grilled steakhouse choices, sides, and desserts. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll be happy to know that they are staring with 120 bottles and will also have 30 different glasses of wine for your drinking pleasure. There are also some beer options, with Half Full taking up 2/3 drafts with their Bright Ale and IPA. Now, back to the food…
Kristien sank down into the short rib mac & cheese, and Dan ordered the shaved Brussels sprout salad, atop a parmesan risotto cake, sprinkled with truffle vinaigrette. When Chef Leonard spoke to us about the dish, we were surprised (and a bit scared) when he told us that the dish before us consisted of raw shredded Brussels sprouts. Raw? Regardless, Dan dug in and really loved the strong cheese flavor that was packed into the sprouts. There was really a great contrast going on there: the richness of the cheese paired with the earthy, slightly bitter taste of the sprouts. The risotto cake beneath had a crispy crust and added a nice solid crunch from the crispy crust. The inside probably could have used just a bit more cooking, but that didn’t stop Dan from devouring every last bite.
While we waited for our entrees to come by, we got to talking to Ralph Kantrowitz, editor of Great Restaurants of Fairfield, Westchester, & the Hudson Valley. We talked a bit, then we couldn’t get our eyes off of what Eben brought him…the Harvest Burger with grass-fed beef and bacon, crispy onions, smoked tomato mayo, Grafton cheddar, all on a toasted English muffin and served with Everything Spice fries. Our eyes kept going to his plate and he must have sensed our jealousy, so he let us try the fries that Eben explained have the same toppings as an everything bagel. Yeah, they were really good and it was interesting to feel like we were eating a bagel, but actually eating french fries.
Just as a little hunger began to scratch at us, Eben brought octopus cavatelli and the roasted all natural half chicken. Dan, ever the fan of octopus was impressed with his dish. The seafood itself was delicate, grilled nicely, and had an extra layer of taste from the tomato sauce. The sauce was nicely rich, yet complex from the briny chunks of green olives and the crispy bits of guanciale, pork cheek. This was served over the cavatelli, these being al dente as opposed to Kristien’s from the Mac & Cheese being a bit overcooked…probably because of the baking.
Kristien broke tradition and actually ordered chicken, her least favorite meat while dining out. But, she was glad she went with it. The chicken was cooked nicely and was juicy with a flavorful skin. The dirty rice was very good and was great to eat with a bit of meat. Tying the dish together was the rich over easy egg that oozed all down the chicken and rice when you took a fork to it. We’d definitely order this again.
Our experience wouldn’t be complete without dessert, though, so you know we were game. While we could have gone for anything, we stuck with the brownie sundae, made with ice cream from Longford’s Own Made of Port Chester. The brownie was light and wasn’t as dense as regular brownies. While we enjoy the fudgier versions, the flavors were all there. There was rich and creamy coffee ice cream with crunchy espresso nuggets, a very rich peanut butter with real chunks, and a vanilla flecked with the real stuff that helped to balance out the dessert.
Now that we live in Greenwich, we are glad to see that we have another great restaurant to hit up in our neighborhood. We love Harvest’s respect for food and all things local, and we appreciate an exciting and diverse menu. While you will be able to have some creative New American dishes, you can still have some of the favorite Italian dishes from their other restaurants, like their Ricotta Gnocchi. The bar service was friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable…a perfect place to get some drinks and snacks. Also, who doesn’t want a good place for some wood fire grilled cuts of meat?
While our experience was from their first night before they were even open to the public, we were impressed because things ran smoothly. We will have to return for a full meal here incognito, but we have to say we are fans of Chef Leonard and Harvest. When we return, we’d love to try the Carpetbagger Oysters, Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sliders, Charred Octopus, Beer Steamed Mussels, Harvest Burger, Grilled Marinated Hanger Steak, Rare Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Lobster Pot Pie, and…well, who are we kidding…all of it!
Address: 372 Greenwich Avenue
Phone: (203) 869-4080
Hours: Starting off, 5-11 weekly. They will work in lunch after a few weeks, so be sure to call before you try to hit them up.
M-Th from 11:30-10 pm
F-Sa from 11:30-11 pm
Su from 11:30 – 10 pm
Brunch served Saturday and Sunday from 12-3 pm