Cambridge: Harvest shines on

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman, photos by Lan Dennie

harvest entry Harvest is a Cambridge classic that's been majoring in East Coast cuisine since the '70s. I like its history because we were there and we remember it well. A family member worked here before the patio was covered and the bar stools were padded. What I will say is it's Cambridge. Bring your diplomas. If you don't belong to a club, you could imagine this is your club. It's dark and well, clubby, with cream-colored tablecloths and red banquettes.

It's warm so we opt for the patio where there are bonsais and ivy, what else. Our server is Anthony, who's taking very good care of us. He's bringing Lan the Les Vins de Vienne, Les Laurelles Viognier, one of her favorites. harvest bread and wine It's Friday, it's lunch, we're seated at once in comfy bamboo chairs and there's a tree growing up the sun filters that wasn't here before. With heaters and fans, we'll be out here a lot. Perhaps not on a hot, hot day but maybe. And stylish brown bread: it's cranberry, we think, with nuts, we think, not sweet, just earthy and so hearty you don't need anything else but we're ordering. The French and corn bread are good too, all of which someone made this morning.

harvested island creeks In the meantime, Anthony brings the Island Creeks: juicy and briny, bearing the taste of summer . . . no cocktail sauce or horseradish needed, no lemon and no mignonette either. Mignonette must have been dreamed up by someone who lives inland, with its ongepotchket of shallots and vinegar. The recipe I looked at was published in 1964 in Epicurious. Whenever it shows up on ice with oysters, I dip my fork in to see if it's changed. No, and I can't imagine what kind of food I would dunk. Anyway, we always talk about the idea of making a meal simply of oysters in season. We're not doing it today but we talk about it and some day we will.

harvest burger The Harvest chef now is Tyler Kinnett, who's at work in a new kitchen. We didn't meet him but I tried. Former chef Mary Dumont left in May to do her own thing. Of course we want to know what she's up to. I order the burger without the cheese, without bacon, without mushrooms and onions, and especially without a fried egg. Really, egg? Why? Who started this let's drop eggs on everything? Whoever, here's a fully dressed burger nicely charred and tightly packed. It's on a big roll with onion and tomato. If anyone asked, and let me tell you that no one did, I'd say that if I had closed the roll, which I didn't touch of course, even I couldn't get a bite. I'd say when it's a great burger, it doesn't need distraction. But I am not everyone and no one asked. Except for fries. Fries are always welcome. More and more we see fries upright in pots; clever and hotter than plate-heaped.

harvested lobster Lan's pièce de résistance is the lobster roll. (Oysters and lobster in the same meal, even for us this is not too shabby.) The side salad's got frisée or curly endive, Boston and red lettuce in balsamic vinaigrette. But the lobster has class: chopped lettuce and the smallest amount of mayo, a touch of celery, with a hint of onion on a roll with give. I've taken it home, adding chopped arugula to my tuna and chicken salads, and it's genius. We cut each sandwich precisely for a share. It's lunch of the month or as they say, surf and turf. (Note: as I write this, the menu shows the lobster sandwich now with bacon. I can't decide what this insults more: the bacon or the lobster.)

Dessert? We absolutely cannot. Lan says we'll come back to sit at the bar for wine with a Key lime tart: "crème fraiche mousse, basil meringue, grapefruit gel poppy seed olive oil cookie, hibiscus marshmallow, pickled lemon chamomile crumble & compressed citrus" or something simple that comes with a ton of chocolate. I still want to see the kitchen and if I remember right, this was one of the first open ones. Though I would, I can't congratulate them because they do it all themselves. But I guess when you make it to 40, it's accurate to say venerable. Shine on, Harvest, shine on.

Harvest Restaurant
44 Brattle St
Cambridge, MA 02138
617. 868. 2255

© July 27, 2015 Photos by Lan Dennie. Kitty Kaufman is a Boston writer. Read more of their food adventures at Corporate Edge and follow Kitty on Twitter
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