There's a farm-to-table restaurant movement cooking up in the area, and Susquehanna Township is no exception.
While I recently wrote about the revamped Stock’s on 2nd, on Tuesday night I had the pleasure of dining at yet another farm-to-table locale: Susquehanna Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar at The Shoppes at Susquehanna Marketplace. Even though it was just a soft launch (it will open to the public Aug. 21), I was pleasantly surprised — mostly because it couldn’t be more different from the two mediocre sports bars that the space previously housed.
From the glass-enclosed entryway and stacked stone throughout to the Edison-bulb mood lighting and artsy yet warm decorative accents, the restaurant is modern but also cozy and unpretentious. In my mind, it’s reminiscent of the atmosphere at Devon Seafood Grill and Bonefish Grill, which are two other examples of what I consider to be chain restaurants for chain restaurant haters (like me).
If you ask Executive Chef Josh Short, previously of JDK Catering and The Garlic Poet Restaurant & Bar, one of Harvest’s goals is to offer a contemporary dining experience that is approachable rather than stuffy. This is also the reason that menu prices at Harvest were adjusted appropriately downward in comparison with its three Philadelphia-area locations. Chef Short is passionate about the fact that a healthy and elegant meal doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Speaking of healthy, 90 percent of the menu items are 500 calories or less, and any items over 500 calories are appropriately noted. It’s also comforting to know that Harvest works with 75 local farmers — from State College to Coatesville — to source fresh, high-quality ingredients. And even as someone who is currently following a paleo diet challenge through my gym (shoutout to CrossFit Condor!), I found it relatively easy to make selections that would keep me on track. Many menu items are available gluten-free as well.
I ordered the charcuterie tasting platter to start, and since I’m Italian, you know that I’ll be a harsh critic. But I give the melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto di Parma and sweet and hot sopressata my seal of approval. Pâté is not typically my favorite, but I will admit that the country pâté was rather tasty, and the olives and cornichons were nice accompaniments.
For my entrée, the cedar-roasted Atlantic salmon — which was expertly seasoned and cooked — with asparagus and baby carrots did not disappoint. My fiancé was happy to devour the roasted fingerling potatoes that came with my dinner.
Some other amazing-looking dishes that were being shuttled throughout the dining room included the local farms cheese plate, jerk chicken flatbread, spicy chorizo mussels, blackened fish tacos, ginger pork chop, and pan-seared sesame tuna. Chef Short also explained that Harvest serves a custom burger consisting of hanger steak, brisket and short rib that was created exclusively for the restaurant through a LocalHarvest cattle cooperative. I may just have to order that next time.
With my current dietary restrictions, I wasn’t able to sample the more than 50 wines by the glass, local beers and seasonal cocktails, but my dinner company sure did. In particular, the blackberry gin rickey and the blueberry cosmopolitan looked divine. These were much more elaborate and innovative cocktails than what I was expecting — and they were served in beautiful glassware.
You have about three weeks to come try out the summer menu, at which point it will be swapped out for the fall menu. Oh, how I love a seasonal menu — there’s just something about it that makes me all warm and hungry inside!