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Restaurants

Harvest Kitchen

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on January 8, 2014 / review policy

harvest kitchen torontoHarvest Kitchen has been open just over a month on Harbord in the charming two storey spot that was until recently home to Tati Bistro. Co-owned by industry veterans Jill Mcabe, Owen Steinberg and Pino Preiano, the restaurant aspires to be a comfortable all-day destination.

harvest kitchenThe cozy main floor dining room seats 38 and consists of eclectic furnishings, warm woods, an original (though unauthorized) Warhol and select props from the Polka Dot Door. Upstairs is still under construction, but once complete will more than triple capacity and boast an impressive patio surrounded by treetops.

The menu, dubbed "flexitarian," champions performance diet-like dishes, predominantly vegetarian and low in refined starches and sugars. Optional animal proteins are available in moderation. The ambition is to provide "a good tummy feel," says Chef Steinberg. "We even wrote that into the business plan." There's something for everyone regardless of dietary preferences or restrictions and neither taste nor breadth of selection feels compromised.

harvest kitchenUnder starters, the menu offers a broad assortment of nibbles inspired from across the globe. The Dip Platter ($8.95) features a trio of complementary flavours and textures including a truffled white bean dip, chunky eggplant, pepper and caper caponata, and dukkah, a dry Egyptian mix of crushed nuts and spices that's eaten with grilled barbaree flatbread dipped first in oil.

Next up, Steamed Shu Mai Dumplings ($7.45, lead photo) demonstrates the kitchen's love for meat in modest proportions. Chewy little packages contain a mix of pork, chicken, shrimp and mushrooms scented with ginger and served with a tangy soy and fish sauce dip on the side.

harvest kitchenHearty options on the dinner menu include a range of cross cultural comfort foods like burgers, falafels, pot pies and a duck confit cassoulet. Rice bowls like the fragrant Green Curry ($10.95) are offered meatless but can be customized with chicken, steak, tofu or shrimp.

harvest kitchenFor me, the surprise star is the No-Meat Meatball Melt'wich ($9.95), an open faced sandwich served on a whole wheat garlic bun topped with barely-formed patties made of barley, lentils, mushrooms and caramelized onions. The whole thing is smothered in bright marinara sauce and melted cheese and is served with a side of celery root slaw.

harvestkitchenAt the bar, both beer and wine are available on tap. Draught brews sold by the half-pint ($3.25-$4.80) or pint ($5.95-$7.00) are available in eight varieties, including Hogtown Ale, Stiegl Grapefruit Radler and Mongozo gluten-free Pilsner. Tap wines from 13th Street Winery are sold for only $0.99 each ounce and bottles range from $34 to $48.

harvest kitchenHarvest Kitchen is open daily from 10am until 11pm for weekday coffee, breakfasts and weekend brunches. Take-out orders are welcome, but reservations are not.

harvest kitchenPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

17 Comments

RB / January 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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I've been a few times now and it is really nice. The food is inventive and fresh. The decor is warm (pay particular attention to the art - worth taking a gander). Great addition to the neighbourhood.
chris / January 8, 2014 at 01:18 pm
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I went for dinner with a vegan friend a week ago. I am not a vegan, so we are supposed to be their target audience. Servers are eager to please, but inexperienced, so they come off as pushy instead of helpful. When our waitress came to do the “how’s your food?” thing, we were deep in discussion. Instead of coming back later, she hovered over us so we would stop talking. Later, she tried to take away my unfinished beer. Food was ok, but not special. We shared a “tempura” starter with clumsy batter and a non-vegan dip, so my friend couldn’t have any. Why wouldn’t you make dips vegan? Our mains were fine, but were missing restaurant-y touches. I had the cassoulet, which was well prepared, but just came alone in a bowl without a couple of slices of toasted baguette or anything. She had a big plate of beans and pasta, which she enjoyed, but could have easily made at home. We both felt it was pretty meh and will not be returning.
boxxxy replying to a comment from chris / January 8, 2014 at 06:41 pm
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I had a similar experience Chris. The menu kind of felt all over the place and not in a good way. It just kind of lacked cohesion. Our server was inexperienced, but kind so there was no problem there. But honestly, we just felt the food was only good and portions weren't really in line with price. I was really hoping for a nice, new, chill spot on the Harbord strip which is overrun by restaurants I can't afford. Maybe these guys will buff out the rough edges soon, but until then I'll stick with the Harbord House.

I also am kind of bothered by looming presences of the owners. We were asked at the end of the meal how we felt, and offered a small criticism. We really felt the owner's response was maybe too defensive? If you ask clients if there's anything that could have been done better and they offer their opinion just thank them. Don't harangue them. Now here owners are popping up to ask about the experience when a review has already been offered. Just sit back and read -- don't worry, folks will let you know without prompting them to call!
honeydijonay / January 8, 2014 at 08:29 pm
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I LOVE meat... but I have to admit, that No-Meat Meatball Melt'wich looks and sounds like it needs to be in my mouth post haste! AND the place looks charming. Harbord St. here I come!!
harusaku / January 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm
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Because the owners seem to be looking at this website...FYI the lunch/dinner menu PDF on your website does not work! Please fix it so I can take a look!
asdf replying to a comment from boxxxy / January 8, 2014 at 10:52 pm
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"we just felt the food was only good" - what does that even mean? If you had a problem with the resto and the owners are asking, you didn't have the balls to give them your opinion? But all of a sudden you can come home and ramble about it online?
Obviously it's a new place trying to iron out the kinks. Let me know if there were roaches on the tables, hair in your food, or obnoxious servers... don't tell me the food was 'only good' - because that sounds like its worth trying to me!
J. Tati / January 9, 2014 at 02:13 am
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No frog legs on the menu!?! Good luck paying the bills with No-Meat Meatball Melt'wich and slaw.
Jill replying to a comment from harusaku / January 9, 2014 at 08:18 am
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Thank you for letting me know that our lunch/dinner menu link didn't work for you!

I have reloaded the link, if that doesn't work please email us at getintouch@harvestkitchen.ca and I will send you a text version, as a short term solution, until I can figure out what is not working.

Thanks again,
Jill
joanna / January 9, 2014 at 04:52 pm
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OMG really people? At least they care! Me and my boyfriend went to Harvest Kitchen after checking out the website. Honestly just the nice welcome would be enough to make me go back. I don't remember the last time I got that from a restaurant in the city actually. I had the chicken pot pie which I thought was absolutely delicious and my man loved his burger and raved about the fries, don't ask me but that's his thing! The service was attentive, not perfect I'll admit but im not going to just sit here and complain. The effort was genuine and truly that is all I ask for. I would rather spend my money in a place like this than an overly priced pompous restaurant with owners who don't really give a damn about their customers. These guys are on the right track and we'll be back real soon. Spare me the drama this ain't twitter!!
Anne / January 10, 2014 at 04:01 pm
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I came here for a late lunch with my mother the other day and we absolutely loved it. We shared the dip platter (which was amazing) and I had the green curry and she had the chicken pot pie - we were both thoroughly satisfied with our meals. The servers were extremely friendly and I really loved the decor of the place (plus great music was playing!). I really appreciate the fact that they use local produce and that it is very easy to choose healthy options. We will both definitely be returning soon!
mjb / January 16, 2014 at 03:03 pm
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I was taken here today for my birthday lunch. We had: Blushing Bride, The Cure, The Warrior, coffees and tea to drink. We ate Veggie Pot Pie, Corn Millet Pancakes, Southern North American Bowl and a breakfast sandwich. They were so good we sampled all three desserts of carrot cake, cheeseless cheesecake and hazelnut brownie.

All of the food was delicious and beautifully presented. Service was relaxed yet smooth, smart and efficient.

Try it, we think you'll like it.
Amanda / January 22, 2014 at 10:42 am
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Went in and got a cup of the african peanut soup and the korean bowl. Ridiculously overpriced for the portions that you get and the food is pretty bland. The only thing that saved the korean bowl from being totally boring was the chilli paste. My soup was served in a medium sized mug, filled only a third of the way and barely warm. Servers are alright, but the management/owners are wayyy too present and came to visit me over half a dozen times, way too pushy with me and borderline creepy with their insincere niceness. Felt like I was being tested on my knowledge of food, rather than actually being listened to.

Bottom line: Food is OKAY, prices are too steep, service is good enough, pretentious management that need to back off from their customers, atmosphere is nice. Won't be going back.
esk / January 22, 2014 at 03:12 pm
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I have sat at this restaurant once, and ordered take out another time. Experience was pretty good. We ordered the Korean bowl (fairly bland) and the chicken pie (delicious, however very small portion). I definitely enjoyed the $0.99/oz wine on tap, that makes the restaurant very unique! It would be nice if the wine was served in more presentable cups, I understand it suits the image of the restaurant but I do not necessarily enjoy drinking out of a water glass. I was not very fond of the servers constantly coming to our table (at least 4-5 times). The first time the server came they stood and spoke to us for at least 10 mins before taking our order, mind you I was starving! I would give this restaurant a 7/10. I am definitely excited to see how the patio is in the summer!!
Erick replying to a comment from Amanda / January 25, 2014 at 12:01 am
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Amanda, I've been here a couple of times now, and I think you've hit the nail on the head. Waitstaff and management are far too present. All I wanted was to eat my food, but instead, I was berated the entire time. I'm happy to have a friendly chat with the people who are serving me, but know where to draw the line!

Portions are too small for the prices they are set at. I did enjoy my food, however I had a hard time justifying the prices for what it was.
Steph / February 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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I went here on Saturday, and I loved it! I'm a vegetarian, but I prefer going places with meat and veg options so the meals don't always revolve around my choices. The food was delicious (we shared the dip platter, I had the mushroom shepherd's pie, and my friends had the pot pie and one of the salads). The staff was amazing. One of my friends flew in from Vancouver and surprised me mid-meal, and they brought us champagne on the house because we were celebrating. I will definitely be going back!
Julie / March 24, 2014 at 08:39 am
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I'm a vegetarian and my husband is a meat eater. We had a wonderful meal. I'm not sure if things have improved since the last posters here, but we were very impressed. It's exceedingly hard to find a more casual restaurant committed to ethical food (this place goes beyond and serves grass fed beef), and I thought the portions and prices were very good considering the quality ingredients. The staff were attentive and perfectly conversational. Most importantly, I was able to get my husband to devour a plate of kale. There are a number of healthy food options on the HK menu but with better attention to flavour than places like Fresh etc., which feels more like a cafeteria. We will be back.. often.
Lisa Phillips / August 20, 2014 at 01:31 pm
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Do they or don't they take reservations? I just tried calling them to make a reservation next week for 7 people. We are all ladies over 50 and don't like this 'no reservation' rule that some restaurants have. We don't like waiting for seats. My son checked their website for me and it said they took reservations for larger groups, but when I phoned them, they said that they don't take reservations. I'm very confused. Please help. In any case, we aren't going there. We will be going to the Boulevard Cafe on Harbord which does take reservations and is very nice. Plus, it's closer to my home.

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