For the past three days, I have been house-sitting in one of the most beautiful Victorian houses in Cambridge. In addition to my responsibilities, which mostly include keeping the cat and various tropical fish alive and happy, I am experiencing some of the true luxuries of Cambridge-living. These include, but are not limited to, the ability to drive the car down to the market for fresh groceries and wine, and doing my laundry right down the hall, as opposed to dragging my clothes down the street.
I am so grateful for this experience. And one of the best parts has been the ability to experience a new part of this wonderful area I’ve come ot call home. Harvard Square is a young, vibrant, and energetic center in Cambridge. There is a whole plethora of restaurants here, each with their own distinct perspective and atmosphere.
Last night, my parents came to visit, and we checked out Harvest, one of the neighborhood’s most coveted spots. With a menu truly built to reflect New England’s most seasonal and boutiful products, there was something for everyone at the table.
Recommended Dishes: While I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ordered, some dishes stood out as particularly unique or delicious. For an appetizer, my mother and I split the Winter Mixed Grain Salad. Crisp Belgian endive leaves were stuffed with a combination of farro, quinoa, wild rice, and wheat berries, and topped with feta, and harissa. This dish evoked subtle Mediterranean notes, and came accompanied with a sweet prune jam that balanced the harissa and sharp feta. This vegetarian dish was a nice change of pace from the typical green-based salads that often dominate menus.
The Not-So-Good Bite: At Harvest, the salt in your meal is housemade using water the Chef retrieves from Maine. And you pay for it. These dishes aren’t cheap, but the portions are reasonable and the food is prepared beautifully. There’s also a fair amount of meat hidden in dishes where you wouldn’t expect them. My father, for example, ordered a dish I was really enthralled with; Poached Local Egg, served on Toasted Brioche, Wild Mushroom, Pearl Onions and – shortrib ragout. The restaurant however, is extremely accomodating and everything is made to order. Which leads me to –
The Good Bite: When my father requested the Scituate Scallops with wild mushroom and bacon hash, they were able to make it vegetarian, because nothing had been pre-cooked. When my father wanted regular potato puree instead of sweet potato, it was an easy swap. My Roasted Beet Salad with Haricot Verts was made without the vinaigrette, because the beets weren’t pre-marinated. Even in my house salad starter – which isn’t on the menu, but they do have – was one of the freshest salads I’ve enjoyed in a while. The lettuce had that distinct buttery quality that only comes from truly top-end ingredients.
The Best Bite: There’s still more. My parents and I ordered more than enough food. We all left sufficiently stuffed. In addition to entrees and appetizers, we got an order of Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage for the table, which was one of my favorite bites of the night and could easily have been an entree. The bread service was also one of the best I’ve enjoyed in a while; housemade cornbread, kalmata olive bread, and a crisp white bread. There was also an order of hand-cut fries with herb aioli, and of course, dessert. But I still wanted to try the Black Truffle Risotto, the Housemade Spiced Carrot Tortellini with Thumbalina Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli and Herb Broth, and the Celery Root and Honeycrisp Apple Soup.
If I always had a home to come back to in Cambridge, Harvest would certainly be a place I’d return to. And with daily specials and a seasonal menu, there’s no reason to doubt there would be even more delicious vegetarian, local, and fresh New England meals I’d want to bite into.
Until next time, when I hope to explore more of Cambridge’s culinary scene.