This Easter Sunday, we visited Harvest restaurant, located in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Executive Chef Mary Dumont, along with being the first New Hampshire born chef to be honored by Food & Wine, has competed in Iron Chef America and was a contestant on the third season of Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. With a focus on contemporary New England cuisine, Harvest has won many accolades and is a fixture in the Cambridge dining scene. For Easter, Harvest was presenting a special prix fixe three-course brunch menu, with optional half and full glass wine pairings. Since it was only 10:30 in the morning, and because we also wanted to sample a breakfast cocktail or two, we choose the half-glass pairing.
Living up to it’s name, the Breakfast Martini is the perfect cocktail to start a Sunday brunch with. The combination of freshly squeezed orange juice, Stoli orange and triple sec might prove to be dangerous, as the alcohol nearly disappears beneath the layers of citrus flavor. A drizzle of cranberry-hibiscus syrup at the bottom of the glass provided sweetness and burst of color.
EA started with the salad of Artisanal Greens, sliced radish, cucumbers, aged feta and mint. The greens were fresh and crisp, the cucumber crunchy and the radish added a subtle bite, pretty much what you expect in a good salad. The aged feta, on the other hand, was a real revelation, salty, with just enough barnyard flavor to keep each bite interesting. On its own, the cheese very strong, but matched with the light dressing, greens and refreshing mint, it worked really well. The salad was paired with a generous half-glass of Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner, a spicy, minerally, Austrian white that cut through the feta’s gamey flavor perfectly.
KD opted for the Braised Vermont Rabbit & Gnocchi, with sugar snap peas, morel mushrooms, chives and lemon. The gnocchi were soft and fluffy, a great foil for the delicately flavored rabbit and earthy morel mushrooms. Sprinkled with chopped chives and a few slices of sweet and tangy preserved lemons, this appetizer, despite being mostly pasta, was surprisingly light.
Made with house-made Bloody Mary mix and vegetable-infused vodka, and packing a substantial horse radish punch, the Bloody Harvest was just a touch on the sweet side for our personal tastes, but still a damn fine Bloody Mary.
The Farm Egg & Corned Beef Hash featured two poached eggs atop a mixture of red & yellow peppers, sliced Yukon gold potatoes, cubes of corned beef and topped with a bright lemon hollandaise. Perfectly poached, the whites of the egg were still a tad jiggly and the yolks warm and runny. The hash was elegantly proportioned, balancing between the sweetness of the peppers, the salty corned beef and the just firm enough potatoes. Once broken, the egg yolks became a sauce that held everything together, melding the separate flavors into a cohesive whole.
Served on toasted English muffins, with slices of tasso ham and tender asparagus spears, The Poached Farm Eggs Benedict was topped with a flavorful chive hollandaise. The exterior of the eggs were almost meringue-like in appearance, and the yolks ran freely when cut into.
Tasso ham is a Cajun specialty made from the shoulder or “Boston butt” of the pig. Spicy and peppery, there was just enough of it to give the dish a definite smoky flavor, but not so much as to over power the eggs or asparagus.
Like the other dishes we tried at Harvest, our desserts were extremely well thought out, each using multiple textures to present a unified theme. The moist Lemon Cream Cake was accompanied by a crisp poppy seed biscotti and a citrusy orange curd. Sweet, but not too sweet, with a big lemon flavor, it was a great way to end a meal.
Sitting on a smear of cashew butter, the Cashew Caramel Tart was as good as it sounds. The combination of nutty, salty, cashews and sweet caramel was like a deconstructed cashew brittle, with the welcome addition of buttery pastry. While the tart was awesome on its own, the addition of a scoop of creamy mascarpone ice cream and a nut brittle crisp really pushed things over the top. Finished with a dash of sea salt to bring out even more depth of flavor, this was one of the best desserts we’ve had the pleasure of sampling in recent memory.
In addition to the well-appointed dining room, Harvest features a cozy outdoor seating area with a fire place and a cozy, backyard patio feel.
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Editor’s note ~ At Hungry Native, our restaurant reviews are by no means comprehensive, we may have visited a particular place many times, or perhaps only once. For the most part, we focus on specific dishes. We try to judge restaurants for what they are, rather than compare them directly. No review should be taken as a blanket endorsement of an establishment but rather a guide to what we found especially good or interesting.
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