This technically isn’t my first visit to Late Harvest, but I have held off writing about it til now because the first visit was so close to their opening date, I felt it wasn’t fair to review it so soon. I will tell you, I wasn’t overly impressed with that first visit, other than I loved the feel of the place. This visit started out with being seated in a far back room which seemed a little strange in a nearly completely empty restaurant, but when we left, we saw pretty much the entire rest of the restaurant was full with a private party eating non-menu items, so then it made more sense. And I have to say, the back room at Late Harvest is kind of nice because it has big windows looking out onto decent greenery.
The menu has a decent variety of items on it, but I noticed that a lot of items had not changed (much anyway) since our first visit. We decided to get different things in order to give it a completely fair shake. We started with the caviar pie ($16) and the brandade ($10); both things that I think have been on the menu since the restaurant opened. When our server set the brandade down, I was a little worried—it looked sort of dry. But it was really quite good. The bread served alongside was soft but toasty, and the brandade (which is a spread made with salt cod and various other ingredients, depending on the recipe). I have had it made several ways in many places, but this one was very good. Even though it was on the dry side in some ways, the fish itself was very tender and wasn’t overly fishy. We enjoyed this one quite a bit.
The caviar pie is a really great idea but, which to us, had one major problem. Basically, this is a “pie” made with chopped boiled egg as the “crust,” a layer of what we were told was sour cream and cream cheese, and then topped with various types of caviar. Alongside was a garnish of chopped red onion, more egg and capers. Sounds great. So here was the problem for us—when I think of sour cream and cream cheese, I think of a savory, slightly tart flavor. This was noticeably sweet. I had to ask the server to tell me again what was in it to make sure I wasn’t remembering the ingredients wrong. It was almost like it was made with whipped cream or something. That part bothered us both. Hubby was also annoyed that the toasted baguette pieces served alongside weren’t particularly toasty. We both ended up mainly using the bread from the brandade which was much better. If it was truly savory, I would have really enjoyed this, but as it was, we ended up eating around most of the creamy part. Maybe it’s just me—maybe other people like this flavor combo better.
For our main course, we shared several items. We had the halibut, which is a main course ($28), the beef carpaccio which is an appetizer ($12), and the asparagus ($8) and the potatoes Minneapolis ($9), which are both sides. The halibut was outstanding. The fish (which was a very large portion) was nice and crisp on the bottom but tender and juicy. It was served with melted leeks (you can almost always get me with these) and chunks of pancetta on top (not going to hurt either). But the key was the fish was cooked really well.
The other really great thing that we had was the asparagus. It was also a generous potion, cooked exactly right—tender but with a little give. It was served on top of a Hollandaise sauce that was nice because it wasn’t overly gooey and rich. And there was a great sunny side up egg on top. I know this is a dish that is very popular right now, but this is one of the best versions I have had in recent memory.
The carpaccio was also pretty good—the beef was tender and properly thin, and had many of my favorite accompaniments—more boiled egg, capers and sliced shallots. There were some nice light, but crisp French fries on top that had a nice amount of salt to go with the beef. What I missed was just a little bit of dressing and/or mustard or something just to give it a little bit of extra moisture and/or pizzazz. It was fine, but not great.
The potatoes Minneapolis were also pretty good—they were basically fresh hash browns that were topped with large chunks of bacon and sour cream. You can’t really go wrong with that combination—the only thing I would change is the amount of crispiness on the potatoes. There was a lot of potato in the middle that didn’t have any crispy to go with it.
One of the best things going at Late Harvest, and the one high point of our first meal, was the sticky toffee pudding we had for dessert both times ($8). We fell in love with sticky toffee pudding in England and it is hard to find it this well done in the U.S. It is basically a very dense moist cake covered in a toffee glaze and topped with whipped cream (and it is served warm). This one is great. The cake is super moist and the whipped cream-- just light enough to not be too much. A must order.
All in all, we were fairly happy with this meal. If it had been our first meal, I think we would have, on balance, been pleased. We were both glad we ventured back in. I am really curious though about what everyone else thinks, since we have had such differing experiences.
Late Harvest Kitchen
8605 River Crossing