Last weekend, Adam and I were in Madison for a wedding and went in a day early to do some kayaking on Lake Wingra and to check out the restaurant Harvest. Harvest is thought by many to be the best restaurant in Madison. It has won many awards, including Top 20 Chefs in the Midwest 2008 and One of America's Top Farm-To-Table Restaurants by Organic Magazine. ("Farm-to-table" for you non-foodies means all local, usually organic, ingredients, meaning the food comes right from the local farms to your restaurant table). It has been around for a few years but was still on the Best of Madison 2010 list in Madison Magazine this month.
Harvest is located right on the capital square in downtown Madison. If you sit outside, you are staring straight at the capital building. As many of you know, Adam and I are geriatric in spirit so had no trouble getting a table when we showed up at the early-bird-special hour of 6:00pm.
The ambiance was very nice. Great windows, interesting light fixtures, white tableclothes and elegant glasses and plates. I started (and finished) with a 1/2 bottle of the Sinskey Pinot Blanc from Napa (2006) that was wonderfully fruit forward- pears, grapefruit, peaches- yet still semi-dry, which I always prefer. Adam had a bourbon based cocktail. Bourbon is his new thing- he attributes this to a few years appreciating Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout.
For an appetizer we split a lovely, fresh tasting asparagus soup. Delicious. Next, I had a roasted breast of local organic chicken which was very good, but not nearly as good as Adam's Lange family farm pork loin. That pork was definitely one of the top 3 pork dishes I've ever had. We had seasonal mushrooms as a side and they were wonderfully earthy, very well seasoned, an excellent choice by Adam.
Adam ordered us both desserts- panna cotta w/ fresh rhubarb on the side for me (I am always a sucker for rhubarb) and Adam had some yummy chocolate thing that I don't remember very well because I was knee deep in my first ever panna cotta. I'm not sure how I got through 32 years without panna cotta because it is GREAT!. (For those who are as ignorant as I was before this tasty evening, panna cotta means "cooked cream" in Italian and is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk, and sugar, that is then mixed with gelatin and cooked until it is set. It's generally served with fruit, or chocolate/caramel/fruit sauce. (Side note: I had my second ever panna cotta at a Chicago restaurant tonight that I will review later and it was also good- actually tasted like a softer version of creme brulee.)
The service was friendly, but hands off, which is generally my preference. The meal was nice and leisurely, definitely worth arriving in Madison a day early.
If you find yourself in Madison, hungry, and ready for an upscale yet not pretentious dining experience, please do check out Harvest.