Florida is known for it’s perpetual sunshine. Although we don’t have traditional seasons, we still celebrate them every time we can, any way we can. So being invited to a private media dinner at Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar to taste their summer-inspired menu was an easy yes for me.
Located on the corner of Linton and A1A in Delray Beach, Florida, the first thing I notice is how much free parking there is. This is always a huge bonus to me. Being able to come and go when I want to and not have to wait in line or readjust all my mirrors is the ultimate freedom in my book. The buillding itself is a clean palate with lots of windows and lush landscaping to make it look as fresh and green as they claim their food is.
Upon entering you see the sunlight all aound you giving off such a warm welcome. The well stocked bar is the first thing to catch your eye and already had a happy vibe surrounding it by both the staff and the people enjoying their drinks. To the left of the bar is an outdoor seating area that I thought I had snapped a photo of but sadly I must have gotten distracted. The patio was filled with patrons and would be my choice of seating when I return.
To the right of the receptionist stand is the main dining room with its rich tones, textures and eco-friendly décor. Per their media release “A truly green concept, the eatery not only features recycled glass bar tops and a beautiful exterior living wall, but also uses all organic cleaning products, recycled paper products and eco-friendly ink on their menus.”
We were escorted past all that to a private dinning room that is separated from the rest of the diners by a floor to ceiling glass wall filled with wine bottles. The room is sound proof, but the ‘wall’ gives the illusion that you are not secluded from the other guests, even though you are.
By the way, the handsome man standing next to me is William Ring the Executive Chef at Harvest Seasonal Grill in Delray Beach. Not only did he create a private tasting menu for us, he also prepared a special Amuse Bouche. That’s a fancy French term for a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre that is not ordered from a menu but is served gratis as a gift from the Chef. The melt in your mouth Filet Tartare will haunt me for many a night. It’s silky smooth texture with a snap of bright lemon flavor was addicting. Just wow. I’m not going to lie… I ate three. Apparently two of the guests don’t eat read meat. And I thank them for that 😉
In regards to the restaurant, Chef Ring comments, “South Florida has been craving a concept like this,” says Ring. “I wanted to be a part of the movement that showcases Harvest’s farm-to-table philosophy without being pretentious about it. Harvest truly is a place for everybody—some people may come in because most of our dishes are under 500 calories, some for the farm-to-table experience and some people dine with us simply because we serve incredible food. Whatever the reason, they always come back for more.”
There were three specialty sangria drinks to choose from. So I said yes. Pictured from left to right…
The Strawberry Rhubarb was such a lovely hue that you might have mistaken it for pink lemonade. It seemed to be a favorite around the table, but for me it tasted like a slice of Strawberry pie. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Next up was the Mango-Apricot Tango. This dark beauty was an updated twist to a traditional sangria. The color was a deep red with heavy flavors swimming in your mouth. It was definitely the sweetest out of the bunch, but was balanced by that heavy hint of wine.
Last but not least was easily my favorite…the Greens and Orange. This one took me right back to drinking wine coolers in the back yard in front of the grill. It had that spritzer feeling of a soda making it go down light and oh so easy. The fresh basil paired with the orange made it feel like I was sipping sunshine.
Is there anything better to much on while waiting for the main course than flatbread? They are thin enough that they don’t fill you up and yummy enough that you feel satisfied. The two we tried were the BBQ-Pulled Pork and the Pesto Caprese.
Sliced red tomato against green basil pesto is always a great color combination and tastes like it came right out of the garden. They also add some house-made mozzarella.
Chipotle Blackberry BBQ Sauce is the true star with its sweet and smokey steps as it tangos politely with the spicy Poblano Coleslaw. The mild cheddar cheese is barely noticeable but did provide a pinch of salt.
While still nibbling on the flatbread, the appetizers made their appearance. The visual show stopper was the Summer Tuna Tartare. It was obviously very fresh and plated beautifully with the Spiced Sesame Wonton rising up out of the layers of tuna and avocado. The mound of cashew dust at the top was swiped away by someone else before I could get it so I was unable to taste its presence in the dish.
Over all, there was surprisingly no distinguishing flavor from this dish. Personally I would drizzle, ever so lightly, a little of that Watermelon Yuzu Vinaigrette that was on the plate over the whole thing and it would transform this dish into something magical.
I will say the surprise of the night was the Avocado Artichoke Dip. Hands down this dish was the crowd pleaser. Huge chunks–not pieces..CHUNKS– of Artichoke hearts were folded into the avocado blended with organic yogurt dip. All of this resting on a bed of roasted red pepper oil and sprinkled with strips of kale. For your dipping delight you were given warm, fluffy herbed Naan that is the softest I have ever had. Rest assured this plate was licked clean. By all of us.
Next up were two completely different salads.
The mighty Super grain consisted of Quinoa, Farro, Freekeh, Tuscan Kale, Moroccan Carrots, Dried Blueberries, Toasted Almonds, Tangerine Mint Yogurt, Toasted Pumpernickel Breadcrumbs and sprinkled Feta, with a Ginger Carrot Hummus Vinaigrette. It was beyond hearty and I found myself wondering how great it would be served warm as a side dish to chicken. As a salad, this is a dish to be shared with the whole table and a great way to get all your grains, veggies and fiber. If you want to cut calories or are dairy free, ask to remove the feta cheese. This dish has so much flavor, you won’t miss it.
On the lighter side was the Nutty Watermelon. The spicy watercress, sweet strawberries, Blueberries and Toasted Almonds are mixed with a Lime Vinaigrette and then placed on top of a full slice of Watermelon. How fun and festive is that???
Everything about this salad is extremely fresh. From the full size blueberries that burst in your mouth to the light and tangy lime vinaigrette that is so creamy you would swear it has dairy in it. To me this is the perfect Florida salad. With its grassy and fruity flavors it’s like a picnic in your mouth.
And what goes great at a picnic? Grilled meat. The Grilled Grass-Fed Filet Mignon was cooked so that the knife glided easily into the tender cut unveiling the perfect moist pink center. The apricot horseradish marmalade was thin enough to not overwhelm the steak with sweetness. The plate was rounded out with snow peas and roasted fingerling potatoes and a grilled peach that was interestingly spicy.
Although the Spiced Florida Grouper was very fresh, flaky and seared to perfection, I would have preferred it to be accompanied by something other than what it was placed on. I was confused by the mound of golden raisin couscous with kale and pickled watermelon rind. The grilled avocado tapenade didn’t do much either. They both just seemed too complex for such a wonderfully simple piece of fish. Which I happily finished on its own.
The Cedar Roasted Atlantic Salmon was as pretty as it was tasty. Lying like a mermaid on a piece of driftwood she perched on top of roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted seasonal squash, and Asado grilled carrots and tangerine mint yogurt. Uncomplicated simplicity.
When it comes to dessert….less is more. Meaning although the shot size desserts are small, it allows you to not feel guilty having more than one. This way you can be like me and try each one on the tray.
It should be noted that they also have a gluten-free, vegan and children’s menu to choose from. Or for a change of pace… they have made Meatless Monday stress free by providing a bunch of choices for you to easily choose from.
Per their media release… “Harvest Seasonal Grill features a menu of mostly 500-calorie or fewer, seasonally changing options that are made using the freshest ingredients around and sourced from the 75 local farmers the eatery works with.” They even put it on the menu to prove it.
The restaurants mantra is “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” Striving to use the farmers in our community and create menus based on foods that are healthy, seasonal and produced locally, I have to say, Harvest Seasonal Grill knows how to make me happy 🙂