Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dear Harvest, we're sorry we doubted you

We procrastinated at deciding where to eat for our anniversary dinner; all our first-choice places (Craigie, No.9 Park, Rialto) were already booked by the time we got around to it. So instead, we ended up making a reservation at Harvest in Harvard Square.

And if that sentence suggests some amount of resignation, that's how we felt; we haven't been in a couple of years, and it seemed like a runner-up when compared to the more high-profile places in Cambridge.

Boy, were we mistaken.

Harvest is the kind of place where you assume the people at the next table have Nobel prizes/book deals/a PBS show. Or all three. And they probably do.

The room is large and noisy, but not so much that it's impossible to have a conversation. A full fireplace was roaring on the outside patio (which seemed wasteful, as no one was dining out there, but it looked pretty).

We started with champagne (hey, we're celebratin' here!) and Island Creek oysters, which came with the usual accompaniments and also zingy fresh horseradish.

And then The Boy ordered a peppery venison carpaccio:

and I had a salad with red and gold beets and toasted hazelnuts.

There are two things that always happen when we eat out together: I take a million photos, and we each create a tasting plate of our own food for the other to try. This was The Boy's sample for me:

How fabulous is that?

And then on to the entrées. For The Boy, roasted guinea hen partly wrapped in sausage, served with sweet butternut squash purée and a very complementary cider sauce.

I didn't think I could eat a whole main, so opted for another appetizer dish: a cake of pig's head (of course!), juicy and fatty and sweet, with cider-braised cabbage and the most velvety, buttery, can't-possibly-be-good-for-you
pommes purées.

We decided to share dessert, and went for an apple streusel tart with cardamom ice cream, which was lovely, except for the hat.

The hat appeared to have been constructed from cheese that had been melted into a circular shape. It was a sharp cheese, and the texture was chewy, slightly rubbery (you know, as happens to cheese when it melts and cools). It overpowered the delicate flavors beneath and seemed completely out of place.

But that's a slight complaint, and not one that will keep us from going back to Harvest more often than we have.

After all, we noticed there was poutine on the menu. That kind of behavior should be encouraged.

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