Harvest 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.
The 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.
Under 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.
Hearty 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.
For 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.
At 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 Kitchen is open daily from 10am until 11pm for weekday coffee, breakfasts and weekend brunches. Take-out orders are welcome, but reservations are not.
Photos by Jesse Milns