The family style portions at Montauk’s most heralded fine food establishment, Harvest on Fort Pond, are more than ample. The practice of food reviewing is a gravely serious endeavor and the occasion of our visit happened to be the birth date of this reviewer’s darling significant other, Rick, so we consciously ordered…a lot. Let it be duly noted that, even in the case of Harvest’s “half portions,” a relatively new addition to the perennial menu, the chances of bringing home leftovers are extremely high. Come prepared to eat.
In high season, Harvest is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, but in wintertime the already cozy atmosphere takes on a particularly special aura. Even on a Saturday night in the dead of winter, the place is abuzz with locals, and for those of us who live here it is nearly impossible to reach one’s table without giving pause to say hello to at least three groups of friends and acquaintances.
The restaurant is well staffed, and I am well acquainted with most, including executive chef Jake Williams, who has manned the helm at Harvest for more than a decade. His lovely wife Sherry was our server for the evening. An extrovert and an artist, Sherry’s exuberant nature makes her a fun and entertaining accompaniment to a meal.
An added benefit to dining at Harvest in the off-season is the inclusion of several discounted wines on their extensive wine list. We made our way through two bottles of Merlot, but I insisted on kicking off the meal with a French Martini I had spied on the cocktail list. Sufficiently frothy and not overpowered by Chambord, it was a fine way to start.
Each table is equipped with a selection of classic and chili-infused olive oil. Warm, crusty squares of bread with deliciously soft insides are offered alongside an ample portion of shaved Romano.
Rick’s appetizer came in the form of an absurdly huge portion of lamb ribs, braised to perfection, garnished with scallion and topped with a soy reduction with hints of ginger and garlic. With the smoky flavor of lamb, the ribs were delightfully charred on the outside, but soft and buttery on the inside.
My local bay scallops were sweet and warm, lightly coated in cornmeal and served alongside a salad of diced tomato with onion and cilantro. An additional accompaniment was the light and crispy spinach—so well disguised that I had to ask Sherry what is was. Jake, if you teach me to make that spinach I could very easily spend a full day in front of the television devouring it.
For the entrée, I ordered the Lobster Provencal special. With the meat already shelled to eliminate any work on my part, I set about the task of making a dent in the huge portion of classically presented lobster, linguini and fresh herbs. I failed miserably.
Rick ordered skirt steak, which is a pain to cook on account of its paper-thin quality. Happily, Jake and his crew nailed it, once again. The tender meat was deliciously marinated and topped off with a generous slab of butter infused with garlic and tomato, and served alongside lighter fare—a salad of arugula with red onion and shaved manchego. Assuming we might need potatoes to go along with the steak, we had ordered a side of garlic mashed, which arrived nearly whipped, smooth and buttery. More than enough to feed a family of six.
I am not much of a dessert person but Harvest’s list had a few more-than-mouth-watering selections I wish I’d the room to try, including crème puffs stuffed with gelato, and tiramisu, which I could only imagine would be presented as a whole pie.
The ice cream sandwich—vanilla gelato wedged between ultra thin crispy wafers and smothered in fresh fruit and chocolate sauce was, well, a tremendous amount of work to finish—and well worth every bite.
Harvest on Fort Pond, 11 South Emery Street, Montauk, 631-668-5574, harvest2000.com