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« Dishcrawl Makes Its Greenwich Debut: 6 Tickets Left!! | Main | Block Party @The Westport Playhouse: Food Trucks, Shake Shack, Beer & More.. »
Sunday
Apr072013

Harvest Wine Bar Opens in Downtown Greenwich

Harvest Wine Bar, located on the lower end of Greenwich Avenue, elevates the restaurant offerings in downtown Greenwich to a much higher level. The Sigueza brothers, Vicente and Kleber, can now add another fantastic restaurant to their portfolio, which includes Cave Wine Bar in New Canaan, Scena Wine Bar in Darien and 55 Wine Bar in Fairfield. A beautiful casual dining space in the front area is dominated by a large brick wall and accentuated with wood tables and chairs.  You can continue walking to the rear of the restaurant and enjoy the long bar or tables, all with views through the large west-facing windows lining the entire rear wall of the restaurant.

Overseeing the kitchen is Chef Eben Leonard who is migrating from Scena Wine Bar where CTbites enjoyed his creativity and culinary talent on numerous occasions. His opening menu combines aspects from southern Europe, with a modern twist, to American classics. “Snacks and Shares” to enjoy at the bar include a creative short rib mac and cheese, carpetbagger oysters with beef carpaccio, and grilled pork tenderloin sliders. "Starters" include salads, crudos and seafood. The entrées (“Seconds”) include several pasta dishes (I was assured that the recipe of the Ricotta Gnocchi Bolognese from Scena is duplicated), but the emphasis of the menu is wood-fired, grilled meats, poultry and seafood.

I sampled three of the appetizers and two of them were outstanding.

The “Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad” with a Parmesan risotto cake and truffle vinaigrette is delicious. The tower of Brussel sprouts rests atop a warm parmesan risotto cake, surrounded by a small dollop of parmesan sauce. The focus of the dish is the shaved, raw sprouts, accented with olive oil, lemon, truffle oil and parmesan. The flavors of the Brussel sprouts combined with the Parmesan cheese are tremendous; the bittersweet sprouts work exquisitely with the saltiness of the Parmesan cheese. Texturally, the dish includes the crunchiness of the raw Brussel sprouts, the cake’s exterior and a slight bite from the risotto, which are offset by the creaminess of the cake’s interior and the Parmesan sauce.

The “Scallop Crudo” with blood orange segments and topped with shredded Kombu (Japanese kelp) salt and micro greens is delightful and incredibly light. The mild flavors of the scallops arepleasantly complemented by the saltiness of the Kombu. The blood orange segments add a slight sweet-and-sour to the dish with a small amount of citrus. This was my introduction to Kombu and it reminds me of shredded beef jerky, offering a hearty saltiness. The addition of a few micro-greens adds a level of freshness to the dish. This is also an wonderful start to the meal.

The “Charred Octopus” with red wine braised lentils, bacon, avocado, sweet Piquillo peppers and cherry tomatoes is not to my liking. The octopus, by itself, is delicious, but the rest of the ingredients do not add to the overall dish; overall it lacks textural contrasts and many of the flavors meld together versus complementing. The bacon, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro attempt to add contrast and flavors but the avocado is subsumed by the lentils.

Both of the two entrées that I sampled were outstanding.

My favorite of the two entrées is the “Wood Grilled Veal Chop” with creamy spinach, veal raviolis, baby carrots, truffle red wine glaze and a touch of parmesan. Chef Leonard told me he sells “a ton” of this entrée and after one bite I completely understand. The chop is perfectly grilled and seasoned, beautifully moist and full of a delicious veal flavor. The spinach is a perfect complement to the veal, slightly creamy with a deep flavor and the veal ravioli are delicate, pairing well with the red wine glaze. To add a sweet component, the dish includes a few sweet baby carrots atop the chop. Overall this is one of the best veal chops I have tasted in a while.

The “Wood Grilled Salmon” with cranberry beans, kale, preserved lemon and charred tomato vinaigrette brings a new dimension to a basic dish. The preparation differs from so many in Fairfield County where a simple grilled salmon filet and vegetables are served. Yes, Harvest’s is grilled salmon, but the other ingredients add a totally different flavor profile to this interpretation. The kale and cranberry beans bring earthiness; and then the preserved lemon increases the dish’s complexity with citrus to take the palate in a different direction. This is a salmon presentation to satisfy both sexes.

And for those interested in one of the best hamburgers in Fairfield County, Harvest delivers. The “Harvest Burger” is comprised of grass fed, all natural beef (from Minnesota), with Applewood smoked bacon, crispy onions, smoked tomato mayo, Grafton cheddar on a toasted English muffin, served with “everything fries.” This could be the best flavored meat in Fairfield County, a deep rich flavor and with enough fat to absorb a good level of smokiness. The thick cut bacon adds more smoke and saltiness and the smoked tomato mayo augments with just a touch of flavor to the muffin. I was initially suspect of the “everything” seasoning on the fries; but after several fries I am a fan, the poppy seeds bring a new flavor dimension to the traditional salty fries.

Harvest has a few fun desserts to end the meal. The banana split sundae includes a brownie (which is actually Chef Leonard’s grandmother’s recipe), with two scoops of ice cream, one of peanut butter cup and the other espresso nugget, and topped with strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, chocolate covered espresso beans and nuts. I really like this dessert and what else needs to be said about a sundae, other than it is a great frozen treat and a perfect and relaxing way to end the meal.

After a few months, Chef Leonard and Harvest Wine Bar are preparing some excellent dishes. From crudos to pastas to grilled steaks and chops, the food at Harvest will make this a go-to restaurant in Greenwich.

 

Really Liked:

  1. Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad
  2. Wood Grilled Veal Chop
  3. Wood Grilled Salmon
  4. Harvest Burger

Liked:

  1. Scallop Crudo
  2. Banana Split Sundae

Did Not Enjoy:

  1. Charred Octopus

 

 

Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant

372 Greenwich Avenue - Greenwich, CT 06830 - 203.869.4080

Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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    Harvest Wine Bar Opens in Downtown Greenwich - CT Bites - Restaurants, Recipes, Food, Fairfield County, CT
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Reader Comments (6)

Hmm perhaps I'll give it another try since I live in the area and previously enjoyed Cava, but my one experience at Harvest was lackluster. A group of friends and I meet for drinks and appetizers and nothing we tasted was good. Two items were rupulsive, even: a watery short rib mac and cheese and a tuna tartare that had a really strange, off-putting odor so I didn't eat much of it. Given my general disappointment with Greenwich eateries, I don't expect much from them but this place really stood out in a bad way. The decor is nice, though.

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermla19

All, I received an email this morning from Chef Leonard. He recently left Harvest for a private chef position (lucky family) and apologized for the confusion. Harvest has a new Executive Chef, Gustave Christman. We will post additional details of the change shortly.

Ciao

The food looks really good. I'm not writing specifically about Harvest but shouldn't we be calling out restaurants for touting themselves as "Farm to Table" when in reality it is nothing more than a sales pitch? When this place first opened I read how the focus was going to be using ingredients from local suppliers and here they are using beef for their hamburger from Minnesota. Not much else appears to be "local" either. If the hamburger is great, I don't care that the beef is from Minnesota, only that it is delicious. What is wrong with just being a solid restaurant that uses the best ingredients that can be found? Why pitch us with "Farm to Table?"

April 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermitchells

Mitchells

I apologize for my delayed response but I was in meetings and airplanes without WiFi all day yesterday. I have had this exact discussion with several chefs over the last few years.

My view is as follows...

I think there is a difference between a philosophy and a geography. I view "Farm to Table" as a philosophy where the food is raised responsibly and travels from the farm directly to the restaurant. Whether outstanding mushrooms from California or squash from Wilton, this philosophy is the contra-industrial farm, you won't see Sysco trucks delivering food. Locavore is the other dedicated word that describes buying locally, but then what is local? Some believe 50 miles, some extend to hundreds of miles. In Fairfield County many farms are sold out to restaurants and committed CSA's so many restaurants need to extend their reach for acceptable vendors.

Chef Leonard specifically mentioned the meat since I "commute" regularly to Minnesota and we have had discussions on many of the Locavore restaurants in the Twin Cities and he was ribbing me a little on the lineage of the beef, which was OUTSTANDING.

I am with your conclusion, with one caveat. I want it to be great and not having been subjected to items that large industrial farms subject their products to. If the vegetables are great and grown / raised responsibly, I am indifferent to it's original residency.

jfood, thanks for the well thought out response. I agree with everything you wrote and I personally don't think it is worth making a big deal about the definitions like what exactly is local. Whether it is 10 miles or 50 miles or even a 100 miles away isn't a big factor to me. What bothers me is the sometimes obvious misrepresentation of "Local" or "Farm to Table" as a marketing tool when the only thing local is the garage that houses the Sysco truck. And again to be clear, I am not saying Harvest is an example of such a place. If they get great meat from a farm in Minnesota, I give them credit for finding it and turning it into a great burger. But I do think that all of us who are after great food and appreciate the lengths that some chefs go to in order procure wonderful products from fantastic farms should also call out the impostors.

April 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermitchells

Mitchells

Completely understand that yours was a global versus a Harvest specific comment and I agree that the mileage is the same as a "how high is up?" discussion.

You should know that at least one blogger, moi, have called out more than one restaurant when the owner is pontificating on how they are "farm to table" as the Sysco truck pulls up (some do buy paper goods from then only). That dog don't hunt. And that review don't get my seal of approval...leads to the what else is s/he misleading me on.

BTW - I love your "the only thing local is the garage that houses the Sysco truck" outstanding verbiage, TY.

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