Dinner at Harvest Table Saint Helena with a Pinot Noir
Harvest Table is relatively new to Napa Valley. It is located in The Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer just south of downtown Saint Helena. Harvest Table opened a little over a year ago and boasts a full bar, inside seating and patio dining. It also offers a happy hour, a “bar bites” menu, brunch, lunch, dinner and a special “Locals Only” 3 course wine and food pairing for $49 ($36 without the wine). Harvest Table offers one free corkage on any wine from the Napa Valley (Sonoma wineries are not considered Napa Valley and won’t be comp’d.)
There are many things on the menu that are noteworthy, one of them being the Pan Roasted Shrimp and Grits. This is my favorite appetizer on the menu. The ultra-creamy cheddar cheese grits are topped with shrimp, andouille sausage, and bacon cooked in a flavorful sauce. The flavor is smoky from the sausage and bacon and the grits are creamy and rich. Another noteworthy dish is the Truffle Chicken for Two. It has a English pea risotto and a truffle butter. This is one of Chef Levi Mezick’s signature dishes and takes an hour to prepare.
For my appetizer, I ordered the Peaches and Country Ham Salad. This was a nice savory and sweet dish that complements in summer. It also consists of burrata, pickled peppers and a roast shallot balsamic dressing. The combo of the sweet peaches and the salt of the thinly sliced ham worked harmoniously. The addition of the chilled, creamy burrata and the heat of the pickled peppers gave this dish many complex flavors to enjoy. I would say something along the lines of a well-balanced chardonnay would pair nice with this salad.
The only problem I had with this dish were the nuts. They weren’t listed on the menu and when I asked the server what they were, he didn’t know. He guessed either a marcona almond or a macadamia nut. The manager came over and also informed me that they don’t list all ingredients on the menu. “That’s just not the way it’s done anymore” she added. So apparently, if you have a food allergy, its best you state it up front. You don’t want to wind up sending your dish back.
At this point, we poured the 2011 Wm. Harrison Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. Wm. Harrison is located south of Saint Helena on the Silverado Trail. They made their first vintage in 1993 and they now produce, chardonnay, cabernet franc, pinot noir and a Rutherford red blend. This wine is about 5 years old so the ruby color was just starting to turn into a brick red. I had 3 bottles in the cellar and since it is supposedly at its peak, I decided this would be a nice wine to try at Harvest Table. At first, I noticed some spice on the nose accompanied by some cherry and floral notes. It had a nice array of fruit and more spice on the palate which flowed through the mid palate into a medium to long finish.
For my entree, I ordered the Mary’s Organic Chicken Breast. It had a nice array of trumpet royale mushrooms, Nueske’s bacon, potato, pearl onion and green beans veiled by a jus. This dish was beautifully plated and was finished off with a nice pea puree. The chicken was very juicy and the skin was crisp. The jus was nicely reduced and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. The sweetness of the puree and the pearl onions complemented the dish well and the thick cut bacon added a rich component.
The wine was a perfect match for the Mary’s chicken entree. The richness of the jus and bacon along with the meatiness of the trumpet royales balanced impeccably with the nice spice/fruit aspect and acidity of the wine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish my entree after having an appetizer. The portion sizes here can be big on some dishes and smaller on others. The meal finished off with complementary chocolate hazelnut biscotti.
After being open for a year and a half, I think they could really work on the service aspect of the experience. It can be very spotty and inconsistent. It has gotten better over time but I have been several times and usually run into some sort of service issue. Also as a local or reoccurring customer, you like to be recognized. Some of the staff do and some do not. However if you are willing to look past some service issues to enjoy excellent food, it won’t disappoint.