Bloomfield/Harvest - Worth the drive from TO?!
With the glorious weather we are experiencing, my foodie friends and I would like to take advantage and head out of town for a 'change of scenery' meal. Is the food from either Harvest in Picton or The Bloomfield Carriage House worth the drive? How do they compare with say, George, Canoe or Scaramouche? TO Life gave them both 3.5 stars! Thats a higher rating than say Auberge Du Pommier or Perigee and just half a star shy of my fav.,- Splendido!! Or, shall we play safe and head out to the 4 stars Langdon Hall instead? Has any fellow Chowhounder been to any of these out of town places recently? Any input would be most welcome! Thx in adveance!
Haven't been to the Prince Edward County area in a couple of years so I can't comment on the dining scene. However I did have dinner at Langdon Hall last year and it was good but in my mind Scaramouche, George, Splendido and the rest were much better. Truth be told I was a little disappointed in LH overall. Nice, but I've definitely had better meals at Scaramouche for sure.
If it were me looking for a 'change of scenery' meal I'd pick Inn on the Twenty. Our lunch a couple of weeks ago was fantastic.
The last time I was at Harvest was over a year ago and my dining companions and I had service issues (like 2 hours between courses and entrees coming out at different times). That was really disappointing as I had been to Michael Potters' previous restaurant, Milford Bistro, and loved it (the food, the service, everything). So I haven't ventured back to Harvest because it doesn't seem worth the drive to me, but I'm sure others may have different views.
If you want to try somewhere out of town, I would recommend Treadwell Restaurant in Port Dalhousie. The food is great, locally sourced and I think the prices are pretty darn good for what you get.
Charles, if you don't mind driving a little farther to Kingston, you should give Luke's a try. I'd love to hear your take on this kid. He's still got quite a bit to learn about balancing flavours and textures, but it's truly remarkable what he's already doing at 17 years of age. With your palate, I'm sure you could give some helpful feedback (though you'd be talking to his mother, as he's a bit shy about coming out of the kitchen!). His family has a farm and vineyard in Prince Edward County, so they source a lot of ingredients from the area. He truly believes in the 100-mile diet, slow food and using all of the animal. He butchers his own pigs (his tete du cochon was quite good), makes his own cheeses and charcuterie, makes his own condiments and bread. Really amazing stuff, regardless of his age!
Very interesting, TorontoJo! Looks like this young lad Luke took a page from London's St John restaurant. Pig's head and feet, tripe, tongue, bone marrow.....Yummmm! Unfortunately, Kingston is a bit far for us. May be when gas prices fall back to below $1.30. Ha! To play safe, I guess we'll just bring our own non-VQA wine and head out to Treadwell for a tasting menu dinner instead. A drive less than 2 hours is bearable.
Bloomfield Carriage House is definitely worth the trip. One of my favourite restaurant experiences anywhere.
As others have said, Harvest is good, but the service is awful. No point in a tasting menu with wine pairings if everything arrives out of sync.
We had a much better time at Merrill Inn than Harvest. You might want to take a look into that.
"Worth the drive" is a tough one when you're driving from Toronto.
There's a lot of good places to eat in town.
I don't know that any of the restos in PEC are worth the drive in and of themselves, but I'd say that about all but two or three places in the region (Eigensinn and Treadwell's for sure). But there are some excellent restaurants. Combine them with some time at Sandbanks and visits to a few wineries and they very much are worth the drive and more.
The Carriage House is excellent. Small, with a really talented wife/husband kitchen team and beautifully rendered plates.
Harvest: I've experienced that bad service in the past (they were always a little overwhelmed), but my experience so far this season (I've been three times) is that it's much improved. Service is very good to excellent now. They've also trimmed down the menu significantly, to six mains, six apps, so the kitchen is much more focused, food gets out faster, and they're not flubbing dishes they way they did before. And Potters is an excellent chef. The food is pretty simple, but done beautifully. I'd kill to have a place like this in the city. I recommend this place all the time, and I'm confident doing it.
The Merrill Inn followed that focused/don't-try-to-do-too-much formula before Harvest did, and it's an excellent place as a result. Six mains, six apps, six desserts (or at least that was the case last year), all done really nicely, in a sweet little (if maybe too little) room. The perch is once of the best fish dishes anywhere.
By far the best restaurant I know of within driving distance of Toronto is the Peller Estates restaurant. The food is excellent, service and views good too, and you can do a tour of the winery. The only limitation is that Peller Estate wines are not as good as Vineland Estates or Cave Spring. But the Peller restaurant still trumps Inn on the Twenty in my books.