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Monday, 19 August 2013

Plowed Under at Plow & Harvest

I recently attended the soft opening of Plow & Harvest. This new west-end spot promises "the art of comfort food." The bright white and green room has an antique tractor right in the middle and some excellent photography of agrarian scenes, but the evening soon suggests that P&H has big shoes to fill.

I missed the first dish - roasted potato soup (though Moo tasted it and you can read his take on the evening here), due to traffic. The restaurant itself is a bit of a challenge to reach, as it is sandwiched between several one-way streets. I question the location: Mayfield Common is big box territory, far from any residential neighbourhoods, and hence one would expect very little foot traffic. Being forced to drive for locally-sourced food seems a bit of an oxymoron.


Plank Fries arrive in a whimsical cast-iron Dutch oven. The fries are floppy and cry out for seasoning. Cayenne, citrus, black pepper - anything. The accompanying ketchup tastes suspiciously like Heinz.


Pickled Vegetables include red onions, cukes, and jalapenos. The entire concoction is markedly sour and the jalapenos have significant bite. The cukes are missing a key element: crispiness. Instead, they are quite flaccid.


The Not-So-Sloppy Joe loses much of its filling when I pick it up. The beef inside is juicy, but surprisingly sweet. A good dose of spice is warranted to balance it out. Shredded cheddar inside has not yet melted. The bun is soft, but the exterior is as soft as the interior. It calls out for greater crust to better rein in the meat.


The Grilled Cheese Sandwich bears the opposite issue, namely, too much crustiness. The bread, though it looks gorgeous in all its multigrain glory, is hard and scratchy to the point of eliciting gum pain. The tomatoes inside are properly ripe and the bacon jam is pleasing, but it is difficult to detect the presence of the eponymous cheese.


Lastly, Mac and Cheese with Bacon Breadcrumbs has a pleasant, delicately cheesy flavour throughout. The crumbles on top are reminiscent of home-made mac and cheese variations, but here, the sauce is thin to the point is sliding right off the noodles. It ends up as a puddle in the bottom of the serving vessel and a spoon would be sorely welcome at this point.

By now, several hours have elapsed. Though we see the chef, PR staff, and what we presume to be the owners/investors visiting with each group of diners, no one bothers to stop by our table and inquire about our experience. Our server was excellent, but provided no napkins until much later in the evening, even though the dishes were nearly all finger food. I resorted to fetching paper towels from the bathroom. The meal felt incomplete without dessert - even a sample sized one. It would have been lovely to try the frozen custard-cookie sandwiches. I hope that Plow & Harvest matures into its ambitious credo, but I'm thinking that it will be a while before I make the long drive again to Mayfield Common.


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