A new local just made Harbord St. a little tastier. And we don’t use the word local lightly. That’s because Harvest Kitchen (124 Harbord St.) doesn’t mess around when it comes to serving you plates full of food that hasn’t been flown in. This new casual dining spot offers a laid-back atmosphere that’s immediately welcoming. It’s the kind of place you go with friends to feel warm and cozy. And, most importantly, to eat food that won’t make you regret your decision the next day. In fact, that’s one of Harvest Kitchen’s goals. They pride themselves on their ability to create a culinary experience that is as healthy as possible while still delivering dishes packed full of delicious flavour, texture, and imagination. As their website aptly suggests, this is “where vegetarians bring their meat-eating friends… and vice versa.”
Sitting at the long, comfortable bar, Co-owner Jill McAbe happily chats with us about Harvest Kitchen’s vision. For instance, they don’t take reservations because they want customers to feel as if they’re welcome to stop by anytime. Looking around at the newly renovated space, we don’t see this being much of a problem. The main floor dining room is splashed with natural light streaming through the large windows that gaze out onto Harbord St. Wood accents and mismatched tables maintain a causal feel, and a small private enclave at the back offers a few lucky diners a peak into the kitchen. All in all, we don’t see how Harvest Kitchen could be any more inviting.
To fully appreciate what the restaurant offers, though, you need to take a walk upstairs. The space is still being worked on but it’s been split into two sizable rooms that each deliver an intimate attic atmosphere that we’d love to while away any afternoon or evening in. When it’s ready, we’ll be the first ones there. Add in a spectacular tree-covered balcony and Harvest Kitchen has everything you could ever want in casual dining. And we haven’t even mentioned the spectacular food options yet…
Like we said, these guys want to keep it as local as possible. You also might have gleaned from their website quote that they’re keen on convincing meat eaters that a little veg can go a long way. We managed to stave them off with our first course, however, by choosing the chicken version of their Hot Cold Salad Roll. Inspired by Chef Owen Steinberg’s love for Vietnamese street food, this little rice paper-wrapped beauty provided the perfect combination of cool veggies and hot meat to kick-start our meal. Next up, we went for one of Harvest Kitchen’s signature dishes in the No-meat Meatball Melt ‘wich. Served open-faced on a Harbour St. Bakery Bun, we swear this specialty is so good you simply won’t believe you’re not eating animal.
But we might have saved the best for last. The Spaghetti Bolognese features caramelized beef, tomato, marsala wine, herbs, touch of cream, and parmesan. It is as different and delicious a pasta as any we’ve had in this city, and what’s more, half the meat is vegetarian substitute, which means it’ll fill you up without giving you any kind of heavy feeling.
So the next time you’re looking for a relaxing meal in the city that’s full of comfort food and fine wine on tap (did we forget to mention that 13th Street is only .99 cents an ounce!), Harvest Kitchen is simply a must try. Omnivore, vegetarian, bib-wearer, connoisseur, glutton… no matter how you see yourself, we promise they’ve got you covered.
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