A Bountiful HarvestApr 01, 2021 ● By Carolyn Cameron
Amid the numerous diet and food trends that have been hot topics over the past decade, sustainable eating may be the most practical among them. Indeed, farm-to-table restaurants have soared in popularity in recent years. They typically offer organically grown produce and all-natural ingredients through locally grown- and-raised products.
I was excited to partake in the farm-to-table movement while enjoying an outing and meal with my family at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen on a recent late Saturday morning. Located in the center of McKinney’s downtown, off historic Chestnut Square, the restaurant celebrates the Texas food movement while, according to its website, making “a long-term impact on the community” by cultivating partnerships with nearby farmers, ranchers and artisans.
Opened in September 2014, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen “was conceived to connect diners with our vibrant North Texas food community.” With a mission statement of “One Heart,” the eatery is committed to working within a culture of unity, servanthood, excellence and positivity while bettering the lives of local community members and the environment.
As we meandered through downtown McKinney on our way to the restaurant, we admired the eclectic architectural mix of homes and landscapes that showcase the remarkable stories of those who have lived in McKinney over the decades. We parked in a nearby lot and walked a short distance to the restaurant.
Harvest’s rustic-chic, red-bricked entrance oozes cool with its weathered wooden-and-windowed doors and an easy, breezy patio entrance. Comfortable wicker swings dangle from the rafters, and substantial wooden tables nestled nearby provide the perfect spot to enjoy a cold beverage. A shelf of canned vegetables – including chunks of cucumber, watermelon rind and pickled pickles – in cute Mason jars greeted us as we formally entered the establishment. Natural grasses and wildflowers arranged in clear vases adorned the hostess stand. Everything felt genuine, homey and welcoming.
We were ushered into an adjacent dining room, which also boasted a pleasant, comfy vibe. The décor imbued a rustic feel with modern country accents, brick walls displaying photos of framed art and dramatic cushioned captain’s chairs surrounding each wooden table.
As we sat enjoying the scenery, we noticed a QR code on the table for
scanning. Once we began to review the menu, it was easy to see the plethora of choices available to please any palate. Offering a seasonal menu, which changes four times a year, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen features products grown close to home by local farmers. Considering the full range of appetizers (“Smalls” as they call them), “Greens and Grains” (salads) and soups, as well as entrees under the categories of Water (fish), Farm (chicken and pork) and Ranch (good ol’ beef), we knew we may require some time to make our respective selections.
While we were oohing and aahing over the menu, our server, Nolan, approached the table. Wearing a mask, he stayed several feet away to follow social distancing protocols. After he took our drink orders, I inquired about their most popular appetizer options. He immediately suggested the Deviled Eggs. We heartily agreed to the recommendation and he returned to the kitchen to place the order.
Nolan returned quickly with our drinks, which were served in handcrafted, recycled tumblers made from wine bottles and sold by a local vendor. We marveled at their ingenuity and creativity. My sons ordered lemonade and my husband and I ordered iced tea. Both were fresh and tasty. The lemonade wasn’t too tart or too sweet – just right – and the tea was strong but with a lightly sweetened taste. Delish!
Our “Small” was delivered to the table. Its presentation alone was award-worthy, exuding excited reactions from each person in our party. The eggs were nestled on slivers of kale atop a modified paper egg carton. Each egg was topped with pickled onion, mustard and a candied pecan. We loved everything about it, from the presentation and mixed flavors of sweet and sour to the heartiness of the dish itself. We all jockeyed for position to determine who would partake in the last egg!
Once the appetizer was demolished, Nolan returned to explain more about Harvest Seasonal Kitchen’s farm-to-table concept before we placed our entrée orders. Farm-to-table is a phrase that can mean different things. At its heart, it signifies that the food served comes directly from a specific farm, without going through a store, market or distributor along with way. Similar descriptions include “locally sourced,” “farm fresh” and “farm-to-fork.”
Harvest Seasonal Kitchen sources nearly all its food – from protein to produce – from within a 250-mile radius. This commitment continues at the bar, which nearly exclusively features Texas-made liquors and beers. The kitchen uses every part of the animal and vegetables it receives, preserving it in jars, dehydrating it into powders and making their own sausage and stocks. This saves on cost and supports the local economy while lowering the carbon footprint.
It’s not just the food and drink: The wildflowers on the restaurant’s tables are purchased from a nearby flower farm, and a local artisan crafted the tables and booths. Art prints of neighboring farmers ornament the walls, and guests are provided restaurant marketing material with their checks, strengthening the connection between the diners and farmers.
The restaurant also established the Harvest Seed Project Foundation, which provides seed money to local causes to enhance the principles of sustainability. In partnership with nearby Rick’s Chophouse, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen accepts donations on restaurant credit card receipts in addition to holding an annual gala and hosting four seasonal “Suppers with a Cause” events each year. The foundation supports independent family farmers, helps local nonprofits to improve underserved communities and funds grants to local conservation groups, among other efforts.
As tantalizing scents began wafting from the kitchen, we finally decided on our entrees. My son and I chose sandwich-and-salad combinations: I decided on the Chicken Salad Sandwich and Kale Salad while my son chose the half Turkey Sandwich with a side Cobb Salad. My husband selected the Pork Enchiladas, and the Chicken Fried Steak wooed my other son. Nolan confirmed our selections and strolled back to the kitchen.
We sipped our beverages and chatted away, enjoying the peaceful environment, and soon our food arrived. The array of color displayed on each entrée and side dish was absolutely incredible.
The Cobb Salad was a wonder: Two slices of crisp bacon lay crisscross atop a bed of soft Bibb lettuce, embellished with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and blue cheese. It was a triumph! Delightful and refreshing, it partnered perfectly with the buttermilk dressing.
The Kale Salad, while not as beautifully displayed, made up for it in taste. With the lovely addition of smoked mozzarella, the salad combined tender kale, juicy ripe pears and cheese, brought together by a tangy citrus vinaigrette. Crispy candied pecans added a final touch to the tasty greens.
The half Turkey Sandwich was comprised of all kinds of deliciousness, including house-smoked turkey breast, jalapeno jelly, smoked cheddar and avocado along with slightly toasted whole-grain wheat bread. Hearty yet delicate, it did not disappoint. Served with crispy potato chips, the artful mix hit the proverbial spot!
I was somewhat disappointed by the Chicken Salad Sandwich. While I was expecting the balanced recipe of hearty chicken, dried apricot, sliced tomato and baby lettuce, the mayonnaise base was a bit overwhelming.
The Pork Enchiladas combined smoked pork with a tomatillo sauce, wrapped in a house corn tortilla and topped with a seasonal succotash and queso fresco. With the blend of seasoning and textures – the smoke, distinct tanginess and slight heat – each bite weaved together the ingredients, allowing them to sing and become a marvelous symphony of flavor.
The clear favorite of all the entrees we ordered was the Chicken Fried Steak. A large cut of grass-fed beef, breaded and fried, was situated atop a layer of mustard and honey-glazed Swiss chard and a blanket of fluffy sour cream mashed potatoes. Bathed in pepper pan gravy, the dish was inspiring. Each comforting mouthful awakened a love we didn’t know we had.
For dessert, we settled on a slice of the Lemon Goat Cheese Icebox Pie and a few homemade cookies. The smooth creaminess of the pie, topped with sweet meringue, proved dreamy while the cookies were a nice sugary touch after a filling meal.
Throughout our meal, we noticed a steady stream of patrons arriving, being greeted and seated at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen. Tables were positioned at appropriate distances from one another, and all servers wore their masks. We were thankful to have arrived early, beat the crowd and get out before a wait occurred for a table.
It’s easy to say that Harvest Seasonal Kitchen provides guests exactly what they want: a delicious lunch or dinner in a wonderful atmosphere. Our experience was extraordinarily delightful. Its varied menu combined with the warm, welcoming environment. There’s also something about ending your meal and entering the square, where the pace seems a bit slower and more magical. Everything was absolutely outstanding.
Located at 112 E. Louisiana St., in McKinney, you’ll want to be sure to place Harvest Seasonal Kitchen on your list of must-visit restaurants. Open from 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Saturdays, they offer lunch, dinner and gluten-free menu options. I know our family will definitely make another visit in the very near future.
Frisco STYLE Magazine dining reviews are not scheduled with or paid for by the featured restaurant. All reviews are completed for the purpose of helping readers learn about and enjoy the local dining scene.
Carolyn Cameron is an online writer and marketer who fancies coffee, her family, random creative endeavors and finishing a home project in her off time.