Posted on | April 7, 2007 | 18 Comments |
If anyone asked me to name my favorite restaurant in Seattle, my first response would be Harvest Vine. Once I say it out, I might start blabbering and throw some more names out and start categorizing by cuisine, prize, ambiance etc. because that’s just my nature, can’t really commit to anything, except to Siv of course… .
Harvest Vine has been our favorite restaurant for a while, serving up authentic Basque cuisine and Spanish Tapas to the hungry foodies in the tiny crowded space in Madison Valley. The only reason why we haven’t been back there for a while is, it is so friggin’ hard to get a table!! Apparently they do take reservations, but whenever we call ahead, we get the same answer- full tonight, but come on by, we have open seating!!! Well, we have done it, a ton of times, go there, show your face, give your name and cell number, and go out for a walk, (wonder why they can’t do that when we call!!!!) and expect a call in an hour or so. That is the reason why we try to avoid Harvest Vine in winter, who wants to walk outside in the chilly rainy winter nights? But this Friday was an unusually warm day in Seattle, guess spring is in the air!!!!! So we decided to give Harvest Vine a chance again, and just our luck we were seated within five minutes!
Harvest Vine has two floors, the entry is into the top floor with counter seating looking into the open kitchen. The downstairs wine cellar dining room has a large table for big parties and some assorted two and four seating arrangements and a bar. We like to sit upstairs, possibly at the counter, watching the chef in action, witnessing our dishes being born, a set of raw ingredients turning into the amazing work of art right in front of our eyes!! What more can you ask for? The 10 or so seats at the counter gets filled first, and I don’t think once someone secures a much coveted seat at the counter, they ever leave! Unfortunately we were seated downstairs last night, but the food is so unbelievably astonishing, we could only be so thankful to be seated so soon!
Harvest Vine menu changes every night, at least the menu is printed out every night with the date, but normally there are only very few changes. But since we were going there after about 5 months, there were some significant changes in the menu. Some of our old favorites were gone, but I’m glad, since we found some new favorites. The menu is arranged by salads, soup (normally there is just one for the night) , cheeses, cold tapas and hot tapas. We normally stick with the hot tapas, if it is just the two of us. When we go as a big group, most of the dishes in the menu will end up on our table. Last night was just the two of us, so just hot tapas.
We started with the soup of the night, Pure de Castanas ($4.00) - a demi-tasse of chestnut and duck broth puree with toasted garlic and sherry. It came in a tiny espresso sized cup and tasted wonderful, the duck flavor was very strong in this, we loved it!
Then came the Calamari, Calamares Salteados ($13.00) - sauteed calamari with braised artichokes, peppers and chorizo. This was another amazing creation, the chorizo cut into tiny cubes with the soft texture of the calamari was an awesome combination. I am a sucker for opposing food texture combinations!
Next dish was called Sapito con Caldo y Pochas ($13.75) - monkfish in tomato broth with clams and pocha bean. We were contemplating a lot between this dish and the pan seared Spanish mackerel and we are 100% sure we ordered the mackerel, but when the waitress brought this dish over, it looked too good to argue. The tomato broth was just the right flavor, not too strong, and the monkfish was so fresh and tasty. Clams had absorbed all the flavors in the gravy, I didn’t care much for the pocha beans in this dish, but Siv loved it.
Then came the meat fix for the night, Venado($14.75) – grilled venison denver leg with oyster mushrooms. The boneless Venison leg pieces were cooked to perfection, so soft and tender, and the combination with the mushrooms and the herb infused oil, out of this world!
Next one is our favorite, foie gras, one dish we never miss anywhere it is served! The Foie de Pato con Manzana ($17.00) - pan seared foie gras with caramelized apple did not disappoint us. The strong foie gras taste combined with the super sweet apples, can only be described as heavenly!
We drowned all these with a bottle of Rioja (they only serve wine and beer) from Castillo Labastida called Labastida Crianza ($23.00), I don’t know much about wine, just that I like some wines better than others, and this was a great tasting Rioja.
The dessert selection was just too good for us to pick just one like we normally do, and the portion sizes here used to be so tiny, we decided to go with two, Flan de Datiles ($6.50) - a date infused caramel custard and Pudding de Pan ($7.00) - brandied bread pudding with apple chips and caramel. The Flan was okay, I got a taste of Dates in the first bite, but it was too sweet for my taste to make out anything else after that. The bread pudding was just soooooo yummy, my favorite dessert there so far! Soft and creamy with a beautiful texture, a must have if you are a bread pudding fan!
I think they have increased the portion sizes for all the dishes! We normally get at least six plates of Tapas between the two of us, looks like they are going more mainstream! I have heard a lot of complaints about the portion sizes being small and over prized, but I think that is really stupid, since for a true tapas experience the portions must be small. But looks like some of the reviews got to them, because there was a big difference in the sizes. And looks like the prizes must have gone down a bit too! So if you can endure the long wait to get a table, give Harvest Vine a try, once you try it you will be hooked and then the wait or the slow service wouldn’t seem that big a deal.
Read more at http://www.harvestvine.com