Breathtaking views to dine by
Walking into Harvest on Hudson is slightly surreal. And completely breathtaking. After you stroll past a beautiful and charming vegetable garden by a tranquil expanse of the Hudson River, you arrive at what appears to be the lobby of a rural but sophisticated lodge. Watch out, the inner sanctum of this Hastings-on-Hudson restaurant will leave you gasping. Big, it may not surprise to learn that the space used to be a warehouse for the Robison Oil Company. The ceiling practically touches the clouds. Aside from the original steel beams, however, owners Angelo Liberatore and
Bruce Bernacchia have completely transformed the space with a variety of authentic Tuscan and Spanish elements. Giant vases loom from the corners while soft lanterns hang from the sky. From the Serrano hams hanging over the raw bar to the attractive team of hostesses in the lobby, Harvest on Hudson is a beautifully produced affair; no detail has been left to chance.
If you are looking for a place to have a quiet intimate dinner, this is not the venue for you. The restaurant seats 175 people in the dining room and can accommodate another 100, weather permitting, on the terrace overlooking the Hudson. During the warmer months, there is a tiki bar set up outside and benches placed meticulously at key vantage points. While waiting for your table—or even if your table is ready,—stroll down to the banks of the river, it is worth every step.
Our two waiters were thoroughly knowledgeable about the food and the wines (the wine list is comprehensive) offered. We were impressed.
We opted to eat on the patio. A basket of assorted breads promptly arrived with a dish of mouthwatering olive oil. That my companion, once a resident of Florence and well versed in the nuances of olive oil, pronounced “magnifico.” Our wine selection, a 1999 Pierre Sparr Gewurtztraminer ($30) from Alsace, offered an intriguing nose and a crisp mouthful of fruit, but the slightly tart finish came far too abruptly.
Chef Michael Smith has to be given points for both originality and creativity. Smith, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, worked for six years at the Hudson River Club in Lower Manhattan and served as chef de cuisine at Rockefeller Plaza’s landmark Rainbow Room before making his Westchester debut at Harvest on Hudson, where he uses ingredients from local purveyors whenever possible. While his many dishes succeed beautifully, his kitchen can be uneven. Harvest Crab Cakes ($13) served with a red cabbage salad and mayonnaise-based salsa of capers, red pepper and lemon were close to perfect. Both cakes were delicately fried and the accompanying jalapeÃ±o sauce gave it a wonderful kick. One appetizer special was so intriguing, I couldn’t resist ordering it: a bed of mesculin greens supporting foie gras atop a cold potato pancake and served with figs, blackberries and strawberries ($14). Each component was wonderful—the foie gras was top notch—but the merger didn’t thrill me. Both appetizers were beautifully presented, something all of the dishes at Harvest on Hudson have in common.
Smoked Trout ($23) arrived, topped with fried carrots that almost looked like a burning bush and served with horseradish mashed potatoes and carrot vinaigrette. The dapper trout was a tad on the dry side, however. Rare Seared Yellowfin Tuna ($26) was glorious, enhanced by grilled eggplant caponata and a cucumber and red pepper salad. The succulent diva of a fish was infused with the sensual flavors of fresh vegetables; the veggies supported their star as brilliantly as the Pips did Gladys Knight. Also offered is a selection of daily made pasta dishes and pizzas as well as seafood from the raw bar. The menu changes seasonally but, some of the more popular dishes always remain. One house favorite is the crispy calamari salad with red pepper and miso dressing ($10).
I have never tasted a better cheesecake than Smith’s signature banana blueberry cheesecake ($8). The luscious fruits are not ornamental; they are integral to the concoction. The consistency was out-of-this-world, and raspberry and caramel sauces were adroitly part of the mix. Bravo! Smith’s apple tarte ($8), more of a galette actually, was great too, enhanced by cinnamon, brown sugar and butter pecan caramel ice cream.
Three-year old Harvest on Hudson is the younger sibling of The Harvest on Fort Pond in Montauk. On Friday evenings the restaurant is available for private parties and corporate functions. Harvest on Hudson also features a live jazz trio. In the middle of this months the ceremonial closing of the garden will take place with a grape crush and wine tasting. Call the restaurant for details.
HARVEST ON HUDSON
1 River Street, Hastings-On-Hudson
Lunch., Mon. to Fri. 11:45 am-2:45 pm
Dinner, nightly 5:30-10 pm