Harvest Restaurant is almost a little-known secret in St. Louis. Obviously it has received enough attention to make it on STL Mag's Top 40 Restaurant List, but I'm willing to bet people drive by it every day without even noticing its presence. It's on a busy corner, but from the outside it looks like nothing more than a mediocre restaurant. Despite its lack of curbside appeal, Harvest is actually one of the finest restaurants in our city...certainly one that may have been forgotten with the arrival of some new kids on the block (Farmhaus, Salt, etc.), but definitely not one to be overlooked!
Months ago I had signed up for Harvest's newsletter list so when I received the email for a free entree in my birthday month, our decision for this month's Best of 2011 restaurant was easy! Sadly, we only had a free few nights the entire month during which to squeeze this in, but we stopped in embarrassingly early on a Thursday evening (I think we beat the old people! ;)) before Ryan jetted off to the Cardinals game.
The restaurant itself is rather dark and the decor might be a little outdated, but we were there for the food! Our server was pleasant, answering our questions about the menu and offering up suggestions when asked. We ordered and then dug into the warm bread brought to our table. Harvest automatically gets two thumbs up for providing more than just the standard olive oil or butter--our bread arrived with a vegan black bean spread as well as some sort of dill herbed butter. Both tasted like they were freshly made and I'm pretty sure I would have asked for another dish of the bean spread had we not had an appetizer coming!
The baked olives we ordered arrived with lavash, a thin cracker, as well as baba ganoush (a pureed eggplant spread) and a red pepper emulsion. The olives themselves were interesting, warm and wrinkly. I can see people being weirded out by the texture, but any olive is a good olive to me! My favorite part of the plate was the baba ganoush, something I've been meaning to make at home for ages.
Our entrees followed shortly thereafter, and despite the awful pictures (dim lighting will do that to you!), we were both impressed with our dishes. I ordered one of the two items off of their spa menu, which boasts a few entrees and salads that aren't made with butter or cream. Though we don't eat out often enough for me to worry about ingesting a little extra butter in a restaurant meal, I was impressed that Harvest even offered such an option!
My salmon was perfectly cooked, but I did question the pairing of the dish. Served atop zucchini noodles with arugula, it was also topped with a tsaziki relish. This all worked, but I wasn't crazy about the tomato broth it was sitting in. I suppose that was their solution for avoiding butter and cream! It wasn't a bad combination--just not what I was expecting. Regardless, I can't get enough of salmon lately and I really enjoyed my meal, nearly cleaning my plate.
Ryan's duck, however, was the true winner of the evening. Duck is not something I would normally pay attention to on a menu, but after trying his, I might have to reconsider! I snagged a few bites of his, as well as the mushroom and bean ragout his was served with. The fresh flavor of his dish--from the basil drizzle to the parmesan cracker, is what really stood out.
Though I've heard good things about the bread pudding at Harvest, the clock was ticking and Ryan will always choose a first pitch over dessert (me, on the other hand, is quite a different story!). We could definitely see why this restaurant made STL Mag's list and are glad we opted to try it for our Best of 2011 challenge!
Looking for other STL restaurant reviews? Check them out here!
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