Saturday, October 19, 2013

Enjoying a hearty lunch at Harvest Bistro in Closter

Sauteed Shrimp with Garlic and Herbs at Harvest Bistro & Bar in Closter.

By Victor E. Sasson

Harvest Bistro & Bar is one of those local restaurants I have driven by time and again, and read about, but never tried.

Until Thursday, that is. I bought lunch for a friend who lives nearby, and we had a terrific meal.

Harvest Bistro offers a three-course lunch for $24, but I don't eat dessert and had no interest in the profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce.

Pan-Seared Branzino floats on a sea of lentils and spinach.

I decided to order a kale salad ($9) and an entree of pan-seared branzino ($25). My friend chose sauteed shrimp ($16).

Admittedly, the restaurant is a splurge, but we enjoyed the high quality of the food and preparation, and the professional service.

We didn't need a reservation for lunch, and only one other table was occupied when we arrived.

The kale salad included fresh strawberries, candied walnuts and feta cheese -- in a balsamic honey Dijon vinaigrette -- but I would have welcomed more kale and less cheese.

Kale Salad with strawberries and feta cheese.

I loved how the kitchen crisped the skin-on fillet of branzino, a European sea bass, and served it on top of a big mound of green lentils and sauteed spinach. 

Delicious and healthy, and I was so full I skipped dinner.

My friend's shrimp entree included a rich squid-ink risotto with chorizo and sweet corn.

As for the service, a nice touch is the carafe of ice water on the table, but I have a couple of gripes: 

I don't understand how a restaurant on the level of Harvest Bistro can serve such mediocre bread.

It's true that I'm on a no-bread, no-pizza diet, but I was denied the guilty pleasure of a crispy bread crust dipped into good extra-virgin olive oil, such as the one served at Harvest Bistro.

And why do servers rush to clear the extra napkins, glasses and silverware when two people such as me and my friend ask to sit at a table for four in a nearly empty dining room?

Are they afraid we might steal a couple of forks?

The mediocre bread is completely out of place at Harvest Bistro.

Harvest Bistro & Bar, 252 Schraalenburgh Road, Closter; 201-750-9966.

Web site: Great food and service

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