Reviewed by a Galpal
Reviewed by a Galpal-Harvest Supper
Monday, June 23, 2008
This is a restaurant review penned by one of Suzy's loyal readers. Cindy gives us with her take on Harvest Supper. If you'd like to go out to dinner with a coupon for $50 and write about the experience. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My first meal at Harvest Supper in New Canaan took place back in March, soon after it opened. The menu, posted outside on a giant iron skillet, looked so unique and intriguing, I couldn't wait to try it. When I walked into the bathroom and read the articles and reviews hanging on the walls, I couldn't believe the luck of New Canaan. Jack and Grace Lamb, owners of 3 New York City restaurants, including Jewel Bako and Degustation, had opened a restaurant in New Canaan!
A group of 4 girlfriends met to celebrate a birthday, and the restaurant is a perfect spot for a mid week night out with the girls. Quieter than on the weekend, the restaurant has an atmosphere that is somehow both hip and cozy. The decor is a funky riff on tradition that successfully combines plaid wallpaper with ultra simple tables and chairs, primitive American art, and japanese ceramics to create it's own sense of place. Harvest Supper is a tiny restaurant, seating only 38 diners, but is turning out an amazing variety of dishes of a very high quality, each plate a beautifully composed work of art. Having eaten at Harvest Supper 5 times now since it opened in March, I can say the food is uniformly excellent and of an ilk and quality not found elsewhere in New Canaan(nor even in fairfield county). The Chef, Michael Cambell, previously at Blue Hill and Hearth in Manhattan, is cooking at a level on par to the high quality of those restaurants.
The Dinner menu is cleverly divided into three sections: From the Garden, From the Ocean, and From the Field and Air. The small plates are a perfect in size for ordering 2-3 per person, and it is much fun for a group(or a couple) to order a selection and sample the menu. All plates were inevitably licked clean. Though the menu changes regularly, there are several stand bys that are changed up according to the season. Arancini, italian balls of rice of cheese, were flavored with asparagus and served with marinated sugar snaps and more asparagus-and all of the incarnations of arancini have been delicious. Potato croquettes also change their accessories according to the season, but are invariably crisp outside and moist and creamy on the interior.
Many of this girlfriend's favorite dishes have been from the Ocean portion of the menu. Octopus is a must to order; on every occasion it has been perfectly cooked, tender, and full of flavor, accompanied on my last visit by chickpeas and cauliflower. Lemon Cured Yellowtail was a standout, full of crisp, clean flavors and served with sunchokes cooked three ways. Lobster Crepes made one of my party of 6 very happy on a recent saturday night, full of chunks of tender lobster but very rich.
Selections from the Field and Air have included trendy pork belly, crispy and succulent and nicely set off by pickled ramps. Tender braised veal cheeks were paired with fregola, tiny spheres of sardinian pasta, morels, and asparagus. And slow cooked short ribs, which were sampled on every one of my visits, were consistently a crowd pleaser.
I have two main comments on the cooking at Harvest Supper. The first very happy one is that almost every single dish, from meat to seafood to vegetables, has been perfectly cooked. The second is my only quibble with the menu, which is that, across the board, it is very rich. The chef is clearly a talented and experience saucier and it shows in the broad array of sauces adorning the beautiful dishes. But a few more fresh tastes and crisp textures would be a welcome balance to the many deep and layered flavors. Even the spinach salad is adorned with lardons of bacon and a creamy aioli-yes, it is delicious, but also rich!
The immediate popularity of the restaurant has led to delays on weekend nights. The noise level can also be deemed raucous on Friday and Saturday evenings. For a quiet dinner, choose a weeknight. Table options for large parties are limited by the size of the restaurant to a long rectangle, so conversation can be challenging. That being said, it's still a fun place to bring a group. And lunch, which can be ordered a la carte or three course for $30, is a calm and quiet option.
Service has felt a bit scattered, especially on those busy weekend nights
•though Grace Lamb, the ever present and delightful owner, goes out of her way to ensure a positive experience for all. For now, the restaurant is BYO, a state of affairs easy on the pocket book and very popular with my friends(and husband). Strangely, coffee of any kind nor tea are available, which Grace attributes to the tiny size of the kitchen. This seems to really bother some guest, but with food this good, why not walk down the street for a cup of coffee...
15 ELM STREET