The trees are a stunning blurred watercolor of brilliant yellows, bright oranges and deep reds as we drive to Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar. The leaves are changing with the new season, highlighting the reason for our visit: Harvest has recently announced their Autumn menu. Pears, pumpkin and apple cider are in full swing. The warming spices of cinnamon and nutmeg have made their triumphant return. Autumn is upon us.
Harvest is the newest of three restaurant brands owned and managed by Dave Magrogan, founder of The Dave Magrogan Group. The other two include the well-known Kildare’s Irish Pub chain and the much loved Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House. As a long time pescatarian, Dave has a commitment to health-conscious eating, and the creation of Harvest was a natural extension of that. Dave told me, “It’s really been out of the love for eating better and maintaining health that this brand came about.”
Before starting his restaurant businesses, Dave was a chiropractor so he understands “the importance of maintaining your health throughout your life” and the role that healthy eating can play in achieving that goal. This is one of the reasons that Dave wanted to “mainstream the concept of farm-to-table” and make it available to a wider audience. In addition to sourcing fresh ingredients from local farms, Harvest excels at providing a wide range of full-flavored dishes with less than 500 calories a piece. By utilizing fresh ingredients and flavor infusing cooking methods, Harvest is able to provide satisfying meals without unnecessary calories.
A sense of warmth and sophistication greet you as you enter Harvest’s Glen Mills location. The fireplace and organic décor are at once inviting and comforting. The atmosphere here creates a warming glow, but it’s the food that really shines. With a menu that changes four times a year to highlight local and seasonal ingredients, diners are in for a culinary treat featuring the best of what’s around. Not only does Harvest serve up delicious food and desserts, but they have a seasonally changing list of mixed drinks created in house, as well as a fantastic assortment of wines and beers. The staff at Harvest are well versed in the restaurant’s offerings, and can provide drink suggestions to match beautifully with any dish.
A multitude of classic Autumnal fare and playful modern twists grace Harvest’s fall menu. Be sure to try the Pear & Bleu Flatbread. It’s a balanced yet full-flavored blend of bleu and asiago cheeses topped with ripe pear slices, a rich fig glaze, and peppery arugula microgreens. At once delicious and bold, this well-balanced dish might just sway bleu cheese critics.
The Oven Baked Goat Cheese is another lovely appetizer that Harvest nails in every way. Perfectly cooked and salted crostini accompany a lovely fresh goat cheese that is encrusted with toasted almonds and topped with local honey. Gracing the platter is a fig based jam, made in house, that adds earthiness and gives the cheese platter a depth of flavor and sweetness that is just right.
The Butternut Squash Soup has an absolutely dreamy texture. How did they get this soup so silky? This dish is full of the warm spices of fall which complement the sweetness of the winter squash beautifully. With just enough savory body from a rich vegetable stock, and the addition of toasted pumpkin seeds for a nice textural contrast, this soup is sure to be an autumnal favorite. Like so many things, Harvest gets vegetarian entrees right.
Their Spicy Tofu Stir Fry is excellent, and happens to be one of owner Dave Magrogan’s favorites. It’s reminiscent of sweet and sour gone Thai, with fresh vegetables, tofu, and rice that are expertly cooked and full of flavor. With a focus on lower calorie menu items there are only a few entrees on the menu that earn the “over 500” symbol next to their name.
For those who don’t have to worry as much about the calories, the Braised Short Ribs are a fantastic autumn treat. This entrée has everything you’d want from this dish: meltingly tender beef, creamy mashed potatoes, perfectly roasted carrots and parsnips, a complex au jus, and the addition of succulent and slightly crispy mushrooms. Every element of the dish is full of flavor, making it a wonderful and hearty addition to the menu.
The desserts at Harvest are all served in small portions; just enough to delight the senses and sum up a great meal. The Cherry Tart, Pumpkin Pie, and Peanut Butter and Jelly Crunch are all delectable.
When the food menu changes over, so does the menu of seasonally influenced cocktails that Harvest creates in house. One of the highlights of this season’s drink list is the Harvest Cranberry Bourbon. This drink is reminiscent of a classic Manhattan, but with a whole different set of ingredients to create the balance of flavors. Woodford Reserve Bourbon serves as the base, while agave nectar and ginger ale provide sweetness and complexity, and fresh muddled cranberries provide a lovely sourness with nuances of red fruit. Another star on the drink list is the Hard Apple Cider, which can be served hot or chilled. Warm spices and rum mingle with local apple cider to create a complex and full bodied cocktail.
Recently, a second location of Harvest opened in Philadelphia. The standing seasonal menu is the collaborative effort of each location’s Executive Chef, and will remain the same at both restaurants. The daily specials however, will differ at each location, allowing each chef to showcase their own culinary interpretations. The newest Harvest has a larger patio and a private upstairs dining area, but will continue to utilize many of the same purveyors, and remains true to the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the flagship location.
If you’re like so many who love to celebrate this season through food, Harvest is the perfect place to do it. With a motto of “give, love, serve” it is not hard to see why Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar has earned a loyal following.
Find Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar at 549 Wilmington-West Chester Pike in Glen Mills, or online at harvestseasonalgrill.com.
Harvest Exterior photo courtesy of Harvest Seasonal Grill. Remaining photographs credited to Nathan Garber.