Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Restaurant Review: The Harvest Vine, Seattle

A few years ago, Chris and I gave The Harvest Vine a try. We were seated downstairs where we languished unattended for long periods, and while the food was alright I left feeling disappointed in the experience and not terribly inclined to go back again. However, in the last year or so a few of our friends have begun eating there with some frequency and when we were invited to join Jess and Shelby there for dinner last weekend, we decided to give it another shot.

Chris and I arrived a bit early for our planned 6:00 meet-up with J&S. The place was packed wall to wall, and we stood awkwardly and in the way while we waited for someone to notice us. While we were waiting, I had to chuckle as an older couple entered and the man said to the woman, "This is it?" I was stunned that two couples were there with young children (one couple with a toddler!) considering the type and price of the food on the menu. Then again, many a time I've taken Kate along with me on a foodie excursion and even if she wasn't inclined to eat anything on the menu, she could usually amuse herself with some bread. I heard one of the young couples talking about how they'd gone off to this restaurant for dinner and then off to that restaurant for dessert, and reminisced back to the days when Chris and I were both bringing in good salaries and when we could indulge our inclinations more freely. Interesting how getting ripped off for $100K changes things.

Chris and I perused the menu and were dismayed to find that the tapas dishes (the signature of "tapas" being small, relatively inexpensive dishes..."snacks" if you will) were $15 and $16 or more each. Especially distressing since we were both quite hungry. Jess and Shelby arrived and we were given the last four seats in the house, taking up the entire "wine bar" in the downstairs seating area. Shelby ordered some champagne, and we chatted a bit and before long the hostess came down to offer us the table that the family with the toddler were vacating.

Our table for four could not have been more than two and a half feet on any side. There was just enough room for a place setting for each of us, and we were constantly bumping knees and accidentally kicking the table and sending skidding into the person across form us. Even the water girl wondered aloud how we were going to be able to fit our tapas plates on the table as she filled our glasses. We ordered a few things off the menu to get started, and were chided by the waiter for mixing hot and cold tapas ("People start with the cold, then the hot!") but we didn't care. At one point, the hostess breezed by, picked up the champagne bottle and began pouring the rest out into glasses, which is normally not an intrusion, but in this case she went to great pains to top off Shelby's glass, and Chris's glass (which was still half full), taking her time polishing off the bottle while splashing the last few drops into my nearly empty glass almost as an after-thought! I was a little miffed, considering what my "portion" of the bill for that bottle of champagne was going to be. I would have liked to have had more than one glass of it!

The food that came ranged from great to tolerable, but the portions were outrageously small. For example, for $16 we got three scallops (three scallops for four people; Chris and I split a scallop between us). THREE. Scallops. We're not talking precious ingredients here. I ordered the "seared" tuna. I expected something that might look like this photo (photo taken by a Seattle-area foodie who keeps a blog and reportedly loves The Harvest Vine; his review was quite favorable and his photos looked nothing at all like the food we were actually served). Instead, we got four paper-thin slices of what resembled fish jerky, each with a small dollop of caviar. I'd have gladly skipped the caviar for an extra 1/4" of meat! Time after time, tiny and disappointing little dishes were laid before us and to be devoured in a single bite. The stuffed squid in its own ink was the only thing that took two bites to eat and that dish rates among my favorites of the night if only for that reason. The hot, red sausage was also delivered in quantity enough that everyone at the table could have more than an single bite and the two bites I had were quite delicious. Still, the dishes were not even remotely close the likes found in photos HERE or HERE.

I left Harvest Vine thinking no better of it than I had the first time around, and considering our reduced means of the last year I actively regret the amount of money we spent there. For what I spent on dinner at Harvest Vine, I could have had a much more satisfying experience at any number of other restaurants of my choosing. Camelita, Nishino, Green Papaya, Chinois, even just the simple Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon, or I Love Sushi. Harvest Vine definitely failed to win me over. Thumbs DOWN.


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Blogger GamerGuy Says:

his review was quite favorable and his photos looked nothing at all like the food we were actually served).

After reading some of the things about that woman food critic who developed multiple secret identies so she could sample the food everyone else was given instead of food prepared specially for her (her photo was in the kitchen of every NYC restaurant that mattered days after she got the food critic job). I'm betting that's what happened here. They know about this guys blog and they know him, so he gets the fish that looks like that photo while you get slivers.

Anonymous The New Improved Short-Haired Righteousfist Says:

Garlic and Saphires, which I think the NikChick reviewed! :)

Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Harvest Vine is absolutely my favorite restaurant in Seattle. I have been several times, and it is always outstanding. The photos you link to in your article don't even do the food justice; everything we've had is perfect and perfectly presented. I don't understand all your complaining. Yes, it's small. And expensive. So, if you can't afford it, don't go. I think it's worth every penny as a once-a-year dining experience.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

Hello Anonymous. I'm glad you have had positive experiences at Harvest Vine. Clearly some people do.

I have not. If you read my blog for any length of time you will see that I do not hesitate to spend money on good food. Ever. I eat well and enjoy doing so. However, I do not blindly throw exorbitant sums at a meal just because I can "afford" to: I must feel that I have gotten my money's worth for the experience. Harvest Vine failed to provide that experience for the money for me, twice.

Seattle is spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants and I will choose to eat at the restaurants that give me the experience I desire. If Harvest Vine does that for your, by all means continue to enjoy it! It has not delivered that experience for me and I would be very reluctant to go back for a third try.


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