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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

NYC To West Palm Beach: Day 4

After five years of living in New York City, I've taken a job in West Palm Beach, Fla. For the next week or so, this space will serve as a diary of my convoluted trip down south, which will include stops in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Louisville and maybe Atlanta and/or Savannah.

Saturday's wake-up came at about 9 a.m. and I was out of Jason's by 10:30 or so. I had one errand before getting on the highway to Louisville.

About 30 minutes after I left the Wyler dealership in Eastgate on Friday, just a mile or two from my destination in northern Kentucky, the dude who sold me my new car called to say I'd left before filling out one last form. So I had to find a FedEx Office so I could receive a fax, sign it and send back. These things are always easy, right?

Of course it took far longer than expected Saturday morning, but, nonetheless, I found my way onto Interstate 71 for the short trip to Louisville. I caught up with my old friend John Boel, a former TV anchorman who got in some trouble last year and is in the middle steps of an impressive comeback. I spent about two hours with him at his daughter's field hockey game and it was outstanding. I expect big things from him in the near future. If someone can bounce back and be even better the second time around, it's my dude JB.

After that great visit, I steered my fancy new Accord over to my good friend Patrick Kuhl's house. He's always got an extra bed for me when I blow through the Derby City. I dumped my bags off there, then met Ben, Erin, Mike D and some other friends at Big Blue Country, not because I like the name of it or the fact that it caters to Kentucky Wildcats sports fans, but because that's where those clowns chose to watch Team USA get absolutely destroyed by Spain in an international soccer friendly.

I left before the Americans were officially put out of their misery. It was after 6, and I had plans to be at Patrick's new restaurant, Harvest, before 8 p.m.

The Restaurant Review Portion Of This Entry

When I arrived at 7:30 or so, there was Pat, entertaining friends Scott and Dawn. We had a drink or two and shared some appetizers — the hog jowl muffins (pictured, near right) were splendid — then got our table at about 9 p.m.

We ordered two more appetizers, one of which was a ploughman's plate that included head cheese.

Ian was an excellent server who recommended the buttermilk fried chicken (pictured, right). Scott and I both ordered it, while Dawn had the roasted vegetable pot pie and our host Patrick got the smoked pork shoulder that I had my eye on until Ian raved about the chicken. We all loved our choices, as well as the additional round or two of drinks.

If you're looking for uptight and quiet because your grandparents are in town, then Harvest might not be your joint. But if you enjoy a lively atmosphere with a touch of music underneath the Saturday din of a packed house, you should get there soon. The Market Street address is a good location for any Louisville restaurant, particularly one that's a force in the local farm-to-table genre. Harvest front man and well-known farmer Ivor Chodkowski has been instrumental in the movement, and Pat agreed with my guess that a restaurant so niche probably attracts applicants more reliable than your typical bad-attitude servers. No staff problems to speak of yet, he said.

The only customer complaint Pat shared was that a couple of patrons have asked why one or two of the dishes aren't unfasten-your-belt-a-couple-notches filling. The only reason I bring this up is to get your take on this.

When the vegetarian, vegan, green, farm-to-table and other movements — food or otherwise — began, they were surely met with skepticism. But as each grew in popularity, there were more supporters and fewer doubters. Just like any new trend or cause, right?

Well, we had an energetic debate about this at our table. Scott and Pat, the two with the best business sense, said the company line must be polite and PR-ish in reply to those curious patrons. Pat said the restaurant is committed to higher-quality food than its competitors, which means a higher cost of ingredients, so sometimes that might mean a slightly smaller portion.

Dawn and I supported a more direct and personal approach. I suggested telling those customers something like, "We appreciate the feedback, but quite frankly, we've long had an issue with the typical portion sizes at American restaurants. Health has become such a hot topic in our culture, particularly obesity. Americans appear to be taking their diets more seriously, paying closer attention to what they eat and even where that food came from. Portion control is just as important, and we hope to set the trend not only in farm-to-table, but also in the sizes of the dishes we serve."

What do you think?



At 4:58 PM EDT, Anonymous Trane said...

what's the dish next to the biscuits?


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