Before I even got to Saratoga — possibly even a week prior — Marcella sent me a link to a possible restaurant to try for last night’s dinner. Located a little ways out of the city center, we thought Harvest & Hearth would be our best bet for avoiding the Valentine’s Day crush of kissing couples. We were absolutely right, joining families and small groups similar to ours in a large room overlooking Fish Creek.
Marcella and I decided to romantically split a starter salad, while her sister Lindsey went with the soup special of butternut squash and pear; I had a taste, and while it was nice, I much preferred our salad: Mamie’s Poppy ($6.95). Both Marcella and I loved the dressing in particular — it was intensely flavored, but not at all cloying.
“What’s this sweetener?” I asked Marcella. “Is it honey?”
“It might be,” she said, “but it’s different.”
We pondered this for several minutes until our server happened to pass by; we waved her down and I inquired after it, but she told me the owners refuse to give away the recipe, a family secret. It was definitely the highlight of the salad, which was also comprised of organic pears, roasted pecans, goat cheese and organic mesclun greens. Though I did really love the salad, I wish it had included more pears, instead of four slim slices.
Before we had even gotten to H + H, I had already studied the menu and chosen the pizza I was most looking forward to trying: The Shrooms — wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, Fontina, Mozzarella and organic herbs ($7.95 for a small, $15.95 for a large). The three of us agreed and ordered the larger pie, which was a combination of sweet and savory. I couldn’t really taste the Fontina, but since it’s such a mild cheese I suppose it wasn’t surprising, though it made me wonder why it was included at all.
Aside from the Shrooms, the three of us also decided to share two additional small pizzas. We agreed upon the Natural (sun-dried tomato pesto, caramelized onions, organic mushrooms, maple-fennel sausage, Mozzarella, and herbs, $8.95) and one of the night’s specials (bacon, arugula and Gorgonzola, I forgot to make note of its price — actually, we weren’t told the price, and I forgot to check the bill).
The sausage in the Natural was excellent; the fennel added a wonderful hint of anise essence to each bite. Lindsey especially liked the sausage, saying its crumbly texture was the perfect and the only way she liked to eat it. The big surprise, though, was the special — it was by far the superior pizza of the three we chose. As we devoured it, we lamented the fact that we had ordered a large Shrooms and only a small special. The medley of sweet and salty bacon, peppery greens and tangy cheese was a thoroughly wonderful combination, an utter success.
While I’ve heaped praise upon Harvest & Hearth, I would be negligent if I didn’t mention something: the kitchen is unbearably slow. At one point, ages after the scraped-clean plates of our starters were cleared away, our server came by the apologize for the delay.
“There’s been some confusion in the kitchen,” she said, not elaborating.
It was such a shame we had to wait so long, and not only because I lean towards the impatient. The food really was stellar, and our server tried to do the best she could to make us more comfortable. The truth is, the only thing that would have made us happy was our food, on time.
“Well,” said Lindsey, once the pizzas were in front us, “at least it’s hot!”
That’s what I think she said, anyway. Her mouth was full.
Harvest + Hearth
251-B County Route 67
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866