Harvest Wine Bar (Greenwich) – Outstanding Opening

BL exteriorHarvest 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.

BL Back DiningOverseeing 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 theof other 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 were outstanding.

BL BrusselThe “Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad” with a Parmesan risotto cake and truffle vinaigrette is delicious. The tower of Brussel sprout rests atop a warm parmesan risotto cake, surrounded by a small dollop of parmesan sauce. The focus of the dish is the shaved, raw Brussel sprouts, accented with olive oil, lemon, truffle oil and parmesan. The Brussel sprout and Parmesan cheese combination is a tremendous flavor combination; the bittersweet Brussels 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 slight bite from the risotto offset by the creaminess of the cake’s interior and the Parmesan sauce.

BL Scallop CrudoThe “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 are pleasantly 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.

BL OctopusThe “Charred Octopus” with red wine braised lentils, bacon, avocado, sweet Piquillo peppers and cherry tomatoes was not to my liking. The octopus 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.

BL VealMy 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, which pairs 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.

BL SalmonThe “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.

BL HamburgerAnd 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.

BL SundaeHarvest 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.

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