Spring is here, and that means fresh, delicious produce is ripe for the picking. One of the best places in the city to capitalize on all that seasonal goodness is DC Harvest on H Street.
We were invited to taste their latest Spring menu, and stopped in on a gorgeous Friday evening for a date night. Much to my delight, we were presented with a lovely plate of seasonal pickled veggies as we settled into our table. These were wonderfully tart and tangy, exactly how I like my pickled veggies, and got me excited for the meal to come.
Of course we had to start with cocktails. The drink menu really spoke to both of us. Tom chose the smokey revolver, with “boosted” Kentucky bourbon, Xicala blanco mezcal, five spice syrup, lemon juice and smoked lemon. I couldn’t resist the punchy blood orange fizz with Peychaud aperitivo, blood orange juice, rosemary syrup and sparkling wine. Both were great, but I could drink those blood orange fizzes all day – so fresh and fun!
After our drinks arrived, we were lucky enough to catch Chef Arthur Ringel for a moment as he showed us some of his favorite toys in the kitchen, talked about some of his favorite recipes and discussed the process of pasta making and the unusual ingredients he is using to make his delicious pasta dishes. I wish we’d had a chance to chat longer. His passion for cooking and good, quality ingredients was infectious and made us all the more excited for our dinner.
We asked our server for recommendations, and let her guide us through the starter options. Up first, the Spring shoots salad with shaved kohlrabi, sunflower seeds, goat cheese and a smokey kumquat vinaigrette.
This salad is exactly what you would expect from a seasonal restaurant – bright, super fresh and full of flavor. I loved the kumquat vinaigrette and wish I could buy it by the bottle. To keep riding the light and fresh train, we also ordered a half-dozen oysters on the half shell with a beautiful ramp mignonette.
I’ve been on an extended break from oysters after having a pretty bad experience, but these Sweet Jesus oysters from the Chesapeake Bay rekindled my love for bivalves. The ramp mignonette was the perfect seasonal accompaniment.
I loved the accompanying quince paste and sour pickles, and all three cheese were delicious. Surprisingly, the bleu was my favorite, even though I’m not always a stinky cheese fan. Our server called this a bleu cheese for beginners, so I guess that explains it.
Although we probably could have made a meal off of just the starters, we still had a lot of ground to cover. We couldn’t pass up trying one of Chef Ringel’s pasta creations – the spelt bucatini with confit turkey, roasted parsley root, fennel, Chardonnay and shaved Parmesan.
This is not your average pasta dish. Spelt is a hearty ancient grain, which makes for a dense, chewy pasta. I loved it, but if you shy away from whole grain noodles, this may not be your cup of tea. That said, it was far and away my favorite dish of the night and has inspired me to try different types of whole grain pasta in the future. The confit turkey was nice and hearty, but the vegetables out-shined the protein in my book. The parsley root and fennel were wonderfully crunchy and stood up nicely to the pasta’s toothsome texture.
It was incredibly difficult to choose from the tempting entrée choices, but our server guided us toward some of the newer and more seasonal items. Tom opted for the pan seared Chesapeake blue catfish with ramps, shiitake, fiddlehead ferns and a pistachio piccada.
Catfish is far from my favorite, but this was prepared beautifully. Tom really enjoyed it, and we both loved the ramps and fiddlehead ferns – does it get any more Spring than that?
My grilled coulotte steak with artichoke fingerling potato hash, watercress and a black olive aioli was somewhat less successful.
There was nothing overly wrong with the dish, but I thought the steak lacked significant flavor and the artichokes in the hash were slightly overcooked. Compared to the rest of our meal, it just paled in comparison.
Although we had to take much of the pasta and steak with us for later, we couldn’t pass up the deconstructed “banana cream pie” dessert with toasted marshmallows, homemade vanilla wafer cookies, salted rum caramel and chrysanthemum.
Banana pudding is one of my all time favorite desserts, but it’s so hard to find on menus in this area. This house made version was so deliciously decadent, and the salted rum caramel took things to a whole new level. If you’re a banana pudding fan, you need to eat this.
Overall, this was a beautiful meal that perfectly captured some of my favorite flavors of the season. Hurry in soon to get a taste of Spring at DC Harvest.
We were provided a complimentary dinner at DC Harvest in exchange for our honest review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.