To thank me for working some magic on one of his old tax returns, Robert took me out for dinner at Harvest Vine. Harvest Vine is a popular tapas restaurant located in the Madison Valley neighborhood. Opened in 1998 as a small gourmet take out and wine shop, Harvest Vine quickly grew into a full scale restaurant that has had critics and patrons singing its praises ever since. Tapas restaurants are so prevalent these days, but few do it as well and as authentically as Harvest Vine. The menu features a unique blend of seasonal local produce and traditional Basque ingredients imported from Spain and France. The tapas may vary with the seasons, but one thing never changes – every dish at Harvest Vine exemplifies their passion for creativity and commitment to excellence.

The first thing you notice upon entering Harvest Vine is the lively atmosphere, largely due to the open kitchen. The main dining area is tiny, with barely enough room for three tall tables and virtually no waiting area (and there are always people waiting.) Most of the seating is at a counter directly overlooking the kitchen. There is also a separate dining area downstairs which is much more spacious and quiet but not nearly as fun. Most people would argue that a seat at the counter is the best seat in the house. Service is friendly and entirely unpretentious – in fact, our server was kind of gruff (but in a very charming way!)

We started off our meal the best way possible: a bottle of Rioja and a cheese plate. After that, our tapas came out slowly, one at a time. Highlights of the meal included red chard sautéed with marcona almonds and red grapes and grilled squid served with braised pork cheek and pimentón. The pork cheek was cooked in an ultra-rich red wine sauce which actually paired surprisingly well with the squid – the squid was so deeply charred that it actually needed a bold accompaniment. We also enjoyed that evening’s venison special. Harvest Vine recently got their hands on a whole deer, and the chefs have been making their way through it by featuring different cuts each night. Our dish was a seared venison loin, thinly sliced and served over greens with yet another incredible rich sauce. Thank goodness Harvest Vine gives you plenty of bread for sopping up all of the amazing sauces!

Overall, it was a delicious meal. The food was of the highest quality and was presented beautifully. I particularly appreciated the pace at which Harvest Vine serves their tapas. I’m pretty sure they don’t even queue up your next dish until you have completely finished the one before. Some people may find this tedious, but I love that it allows you to really linger over your meal. It’s nice to not feel rushed. Besides, if you are sitting upstairs, there is plenty of activity to keep you entertained while you await your next dish. The downside is that this style of eating allows you to drink copious amounts of wine without even realizing it! If you like tapas, or are simply a fan of well-prepared, interesting food, be sure to check out Harvest Vine (and try to snag a seat at the counter!)

Harvest Vine is located at 2701 East Madison and is open 7 nights a week from 5pm to 10pm

1 Comment »

  1. HEY! Let’s try Txori together if you haven’t already! It’s their other joint in Belltown and we went when it first opened but haven’t been back. It was a gas too!

    Comment by Philip Swanstrom Shaw — November 16, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

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