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Harvest Restaurant Group - Grato, Huntley Tavern, Roots, Tabor Road Tavern, 3 West + others

I'm curious to know if people have been to m/any of the restaurants in this group. Until last week, I had only been to one (Huntley), and it was for a business lunch. I recall liking the vibe but hadn't been back. Thanks to a bizarre set of circumstances, I found myself at 3 of the group's restaurants within the last week, and since I've been discussing this with non-food pals so much, thought I'd throw it out to this crew. I’ll say up front that I’m not putting this topic up for bashing purposes…I just keep mulling my experiences over in my brain and wonder if others agree or feel otherwise. Please weigh in and tell me if I’m missing something!

Overall, here’s my take: they’re a) trying too hard, b) trying to be something they’re not, and c) overpriced (more in Summit than at the others) than they should be based on the food.

Their ‘structure’ is to have two waiters working together per table (I dined as 2, 3, and 4 and that was consistent)…but the waiters don’t seem to communicate with one another, so what’s the point? I ordered a drink and 2 mins later the other waiter was there asking me if I had decided on one—stuff like that.

They overoverOVER walk you through the menu and the specials. At Huntley, we wondered if we were to be taken to the kitchen for a test on how every dish that had been described was made! My biggest “WOW” was when the guy at Tabor Road Tavern told us we were “in for a great meal (that part is fine)…the food here is exceptional!” Call me crazy, but you’ve just set yourselves up for serious scrutiny when you open with that. And while the food isn’t bad, it’s not exceptional. My opinion. Caveat: we LOVED the shredded

After dinner at Tabor Road, one of my friends asked the order in which I’d rate the 3 different places, and I honestly couldn’t answer. The service at all of them bugged me, the food at all of them was fine but not even ‘terrific,’ and I loved the décor in each one. I guess I was hoping to love at least one of the overall. The IDEA of them is good…

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  1. I get a very 'corporate' vibe as well, and hate the tag-team waiter deal. I get the feeling I'm being led to conform to their idea of dining a bit.

    1. I've been to 3West and thought it was - fine. I was expecting to be wowed after all the hype but definitely wasn't. I know that no one I went there with has suggested going back and I can't even recall what I had to eat. Too many other much better, more interesting places to go to bother wasting more of money and/or time there.

      11 Replies
      1. re: flourgirl

        Been to 3West and Tabor Road, the food is decent, also VG burgers. Best part of Tabor Road is the patio in the warm weather, a great space.

        1. re: menton1

          I think it is WAY too expensive for just "decent". That's why I don't go back.

          1. re: flourgirl

            It's a pleasant dining experience. I dunno, I didn't think it was expensive. Entrees in the high teens, low 20s. That's pretty moderate in NJ, IMHO.

            1. re: menton1

              If those are the prices, they've dropped them since I was there last. I believe I recall the average entrees (at lunch) were in the high twenties. And again, it was MY opinion (and that of the diners with me) that the food was just OK and nothing we would head back there for.

              As noted, I've only been to 3West.

              1. re: flourgirl

                one of the few wonderful things about the internet is that for matters of fact, rather than opinion, the answers are just a few clicks away.

                the lunch menu, at Tabor Road: http://www.taborroadtavern.com/lunch.htm
                3 west: http://3westrest.com/menu-lunch.php

                if the prices were in the high 20's at some point, i'd say they went through quite a transition.

                1. re: tommy

                  Right -. so that MUST mean that the prices were never higher than that? There was a little thing that happened along the way called a recession? Remember that? But no, it couldn't POSSIBLY be true that they reduced their prices - as SO many other restaurants have had to, in a very bad economic downturn.

                  And the fact remains that I work hard for my money, and even at their CURRENT prices, it's not worth it to me., I stand by my comments that food is nothing special - and I can get better for the same prices they are charging NOW.

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    holy cow. all i did was present the menus and comment on what a transition that must have went through.

                    lots of restaurants cut their prices. in the case of this restaurant group, the cut was quite severe.

                    1. re: tommy

                      How dare you post links to menus and prices, tommy?

                      Facts are stupid things! We're all about ridiculing and critiquing restaurants based upon our experiences at / memories of them years ago, after all.

                      Now excuse me while I go clutch my pearls...

          2. re: menton1

            No burgers on the dinner menu, fyi.

            1. re: johnlockedema

              3West yes, Tabor Road, no, FYI. But those prices for Mains are still moderate.

              1. re: menton1

                I don't necessarily think the prices are out of line--until I'm done and say "Wow-that $X wasn't worth it for that dish.
                Specifics that come to mind: the acceptable but maybe 9-10oz pork chop at Huntley, which was served with mustard mashed potatoes and 4-6 snow peas--for $24.95. My very first comment was that at Bistro 55, their ginormous, STELLAR double-cut chop was...about $21-$22. Or the grapefruit and fennel salad special at Grato that was (iirc) 8.95--for a 'salad' served on a small plate (as in, bread plate-sized). And while it was fresh, it wasn't super-flavorful. Again, if the food knocks me out, I don't notice the prices. It's when I think, "Eh...HOW much was that?!?" that I start to really wonder.

                I'd be game to try Tabor Tavern again for a burger--and to sit in the front room (is the vibe less stuffy overall?), but I can't say I'm rushing to do so.

        2. We very much enjoyed Tabor Road. The mussel appetizer is to die for in my opinion, and they have a great wine list as well. Haven't had a bad entree there either, and the service was great. My wife was just back recently for her dad's birthday lunch, and had yet another great meal. I just want their mussel recipe! So good! -mJ

          1. I have been to Huntley once for lunch and Grato once for dinner. I have been to the Tabor Road Tavern 3 times in the last two months. I thought Huntley was fine. I found Grato disappointing. I have had mostly positive experiences at Tabor Road. I think the food is generally very good. The last two times I had the same thing, the beet &goat cheese appetizer and the braised short rib.Both were excellent. I do agree about the smarmy service, it's just too much. After my last dinner at Tabor Road, I was lamenting the absence of Pierre's where the food was better and the service more "natural". The wine list is interesting.

            1. Just for the record, I asked a friend who live near Tabor Road and has been going there since they opened, about 4 years ago, and the menu pricing has been just about the same throughout. If anything, some prices are about a $buck higher than when they opened. Pricing has NOT been cut to his recollection.

              As I've said, it's a decent place, decent food, and a beautiful setting, indoors and on the patio in good weather.

              1 Reply
              1. I've been to Huntley, 3 West and Trap Rock and each a few times. While it is easy to find some fault at each meal at each restaurant, they happen to be nice spaces with a nice vibe and nice bars in towns that don't have a huge amount to rave about.

                That said, at each of the restaurants the bar menu is usually available in the dining rooms but I definitely prefer the bar areas and the deck or patio areas best. I've had very tasty salads (sometimes way over seasoned), good burgers (sometimes over cooked), very good hangar steak, good sandwiches at lunch and excellent drinks. The drink part is touchy though...prices are rediculously high.

                We frequent the restaurants for dinner with friends and largely stick to the bar menus. For our taste, it's a much nicer atmosphere than other places where you can have comparable type fare. So, on a sumer night the deck at Huntley or the patio at Trap Rock are nice places to have simple fare and a glass of wine with friends. We don't know of other places that are at all comparable.

                1. I've been to every one. I love the atmosphere in all of them, particularly Tabor Road. The food, while not perfection, ranges from OK to outstanding depending on the dish. I've had a few clunkers and some absolutely amazing dishes. Roots can give any of the big NYC steak houses a run for the money.

                  The service can be spotty but I think it's more a reflection of the dearth of quality servers throughout the industry, than any fault of the management. I know a waiter and he tells me they drill the staff constantly, make them attend periodic training sessions and the staff eats the food every day (they have a sit down dinner or lunch before each shift), so they know what they are talking about when they make recommendations.

                  They must be doing something right because every one of the restaurants has been successful and even in this economy, they are packed when a lot of other places are suffering.

                  1. I've been to 3 West, Trap Rock, Huntley, and Roots. I really like lunch at the Huntley, Trap Rock and 3 West. The lunch menu has a broad range of items - our favorite is the pulled pork sandwich. The burgers are good if they don't overcook them. The crabcake sandwich is very good, but a bit heavy on tarragon. Pizzas and salads are also fresh and full of flavor.

                    Dinner's a bit of a different story. I find the food overpriced and underwhelming. The atmosphere is fantastic in all of them. These restaurants are beautiful, comfortable, just what you'd want. But I've found the flavors lacking, especially for the price.

                    The best thing though: the microbrewed beer. My recommendation would be lunch or a drink or two.

                    1. Had dinner last week at 3 West, because it was a convenient place to meet a friend. Of all the Harvest restaurants that I have been to, this one seemed the most "natural", or maybe another way to put is "relaxed". Although we had two waiters, it was really only one who took care of us. I had the lentil soup special and it was decidedly underwhelming. My braised pork shank was good, but absolutely not "wow". I appreciate what they are trying to do - higher end food in places that are short on that (though not necessarily Summit) in a handsome setting. I just wonder why they are not connecting more with the diner.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bropaul

                        TOTALLY agree about them not connecting more with the diner--great way to put it, bropaul! All the more interesting reading briansnat's comment about how they train/drill their wait staff.

                      2. I thought that I would revive this thread. I had dinner last night at the Tabor Road Tavern and it was a very fine experience. Yes, they still have the two waiters, but the service was decidely more "personal". One of my companions was having trouble reading the menu in the low light and one of the waiters asked if he wanted a pair of cheaters! Anyway, the service was very good - a big change from my previous experiences. The food was also very good and I have to say, at least on the specials, it looked like their prices had come down a bit. My friends and I had a great time.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bropaul

                          Good to hear! I haven't been back there since my last trip, but am getting together with friends out that way, so I'll consider giving it another go.

                          Fwiw, when I was at Huntley Tavern last month, I was reminded of the service stuff I'm not fond of, but we had some really tasty food! I just don't need to be "walked through the menu" at this point in my life. SIGH...

                          -----
                          Huntley Tavern
                          3 Morris Ave, Summit, NJ 07901

                        2. It appears from the above posts, that "high prices" is the majority and I agree with them.....good food, some hits some misses, but overpriced,...maybe because they have many partners to support..and looking to expand......anyway,...a casual stop-in for me as there are many other dollar value places elsewhere...for beer drinkers, the new Grillestone on Rt 22, in Scotch Plains, has a happy hour that charges $2.50 for a 16 oz beer, foreign or domestic.......now THATS a deal !!!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: LEOFONT

                            Actually, only one person complained about high prices, and the prices she had recalled ("average entrees (at lunch) were in the high twenties") seemed to never exist in the first place. Which is endlessly amusing of course.

                            1. re: tommy

                              IMHO the pricing at 3 West and Tabor Road are quite fair and in line with the food/ambience/service. I'm not sure where the folks complaining go for lower prices, but for the quality of these 2 places, the pricing is quite reasonable.

                              -----
                              3 West
                              665 Martinsville Rd Ste 101, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

                              1. re: menton1

                                Harvest is opening two more restaurants in Morristown. I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the prices at Roots.

                                1. re: Chuonfood

                                  I've never been to Roots, so I'm not familiar with the pricing. Are you saying that Roots is "overpriced"? I believe it's a steakhouse, and aged steak entrees will certainly bring a higher price point...

                          2. I have eaten at both Grato and Tabor Road Tavern, and enjoyed them both. It's been a little while, so I don't remember exactly what we ate, but overall it left a good impression. As far as the service, I prefer "over the top" to rude and ignorant - far too much of that these days. The prices keep me from going on a regular basis, but it's certainly not too expensive for a special occasion or just a nice treat. When I made the reservation at Grato for my husband's birthday, they asked if we were celebrating anything, which I thought was a nice touch. And, after the meal, totally unsolicited, they brought out a mini chocolate fondue with "happy birthday" written in chocolate on the serving plate.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: njkori

                              Same for me. It's not a place I'd go every day, but it was a birthday and at the end of the meal they came with a scoop of ice cream with a candle, a few cookies and an actual birthday card . . . but they didn't sing!

                            2. Someone just told me that the new Roots in Morristown opened on Friday - I'm out of town, so I can't confirm.

                              1. Oh wow I'm not the only one! Horrible service structure stucture!They had an 18 year old girl at Urban Table in Basking Ridge suggesting different wines! Get real...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: geittight0878

                                  Any 18 year old can certainly have knowledge of wine and what to pare along side the house menu if given proper instruction and education....it's done in every notable restaurant chain, e.g. Houston's.