New Harvest Wine Bar Adds Deliciousness to New Haven Dining Scene
By Kate Hartman
Mussels at Harvest
Step down off bustling Chapel Street and into the former home of the beloved Italian restaurant Scoozi, and you will find yourself in the newest (and arguably most delicious) addition to the New Haven dining scene—Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant—the fifth restaurant by growing Connecticut dining brand and family affair, the JS Restaurant Group.
Brothers Vicente and Kleber and sister Nube Siguenza own CAVA Wine Bar & Restaurant in New Canaan, 55 Wine Bar & Restaurant in Fairfield, SCENA Wine Bar & Restaurant in Darien, the first Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant in Greenwich and now Harvest’s second location in New Haven.
Vicente Siguenza says it was Yale University Properties that reached out to see if they were interested in expanding to New Haven. They were, and now local foodies in a city where fine food is seemingly everywere are rejoicing about the latest option.
The restaurant, which is actually below street level, occupies an L-shaped room with a long wooden bar and high-top tables filling one section and a more secluded dining room sitting opposite. Large glass walls look out onto an immense patio and beyond that the wide stairs up to the street. The feel here is distinctly modern with wooden walls and unadorned tables and chairs in shades of chocolate and burnt umber.
(The interior of the New Haven Harvest resembles the Greenwich restaurant, pictured above.)
At Harvest, like all other JS Restaurant Group properties, the emphasis is on farm fresh food. Ingredients are locally sourced, with most meats and produce coming from farms in upstate New York, Gilbertie’s Herb Garden in Easton and their own small farm in Weston. Dishes are designed around what’s in season—a dining ethos of the Siguenza family since moving to America from Ecuador in the early 1990s.
“Ever since I moved to this country I’ve always grown something in my backyard,” says Vicente. “You can tell the difference because it is huge.”
Chef Gustave Christman III is in charge at Harvest New Haven, crafting his interpretation of the brand’s signature dishes (75 percent of the menu remains the same from Greenwich) and weekly specials. He shares the Siguenza family’s farm-forward style and the result is a winning culinary marriage.
Take, for instance, the wood grilled organic salmon (above) we enjoyed on a recent visit, served alongside fingerling potatoes and baby carrots with roasted baby beet vinaigrette. Everyone in our party commented on how moist the fish was and how well the sauce paired.
The butternut squash ravioli was decadently creamy without being too sweet, and the wood grilled veal chop was satisfying, sitting atop a bed of creamy spinach.
However, the true winner among the entrées (agreed upon by everyone) was a fish dish on the specials menu. It was supposed to feature halibut, but was replaced with sole at last minute. The change was perhaps for the better. Two fish filets were piled on top a bed of a creamy well-seasoned risotto with greens on the side.
Between the Snack and Shares menu and the Starters menu, a meal could easily be made from appetizers alone. The butcher board comes piled with seven different meats and treats, including a memorable chicken liver mousse. Cheese boards are customizable depending on how many you’d like to sample.
Don’t miss the deliciously creamy short rib mac & cheese with Cabot white cheddar off the Snacks and Shares menu, or the pear and endive salad off the Starters menu. Spiced pecans and Manchego cheese cut the sweetness of the raspberry vinaigrette in just the right way. On our visit, we enjoyed a risotto tater tot appetizer served with a creamy cheese sauce—a reminder to never overlook the specials.
Brunch and lunch menus boast copious options too, some repeated at dinner and others exclusive to the earlier hours of the day. All of the best regions are represented on Harvest’s wine list, and their custom cocktails, like the Harvest Moon Shine, which mixes American Harvest vodka infused with fresh pineapple, Chambord and sour mix, are definitely worth a try.
It’s fair to say the Siguenzas have struck gold again and with this second Harvest location, open only a few months, and things will only get even better from here.
For more information contact (203)777-2500 or visit harvestwinebar.com.