I am naturally drawn to restaurants that use locally sourced food because I am a firm believer that you can taste the difference when someone cooks with an item from the local farmer’s market to someone who cooks with something from across the country. When I found out that Harvest 18 uses 90% locally sourced food items, I knew I had to go there asap. Harvest 18 is located in Durham, NC right near Southpoint Mall. They have outdoor seating which I always opt for when the weather is nice (soak up that sunshine). They have string hanging lights around the patio which I find makes any outdoor seating more quaint.
I hate to say this, but I am transparent and I want readers to know that I am not going to fluff up every restaurant I go to EVEN if I hate saying anything negative in the first place. The service was a little rough. I am giving the restaurant the benefit of the doubt because maybe our server was having a bad day, maybe he was very new or just really exhausted. Whatever the case may be, my husband and I were disappointed with the service we received, but that does not mean that the food did not live up to expectation.
When the server came to our table in the beginning, he did seem a little off but I did not think about it as much at first. My husband and I already knew what we wanted by the time he arrived so we placed an order for the Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings ($8) for our appetizer. For our main entrees, I ordered the Wood-Fire Grilled Sunburst Trout with Collards and Cheese Grits ($17) and my husband ordered the Wood-Fire Grilled Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli ($14). The server took our order and let us know that he would bring out the bread shortly.
I am always EXTRA excited when it comes to bread or any item for that sake that comes out before the main meal. I am the girl that would never say, “I pass” to this delicious choice of before-the-dinner carbs. I started to notice other tables receiving their bread and they came after we got there. That is not always the best sign and I was pretty hangry at this point. We had to ask our waiter if we could have some bread for the table and that is when he notified us that he forgot to put in the appetizer but he did put in the main entrees.
The bread finally came and I cannot tell you how excited I was to dip into some fresh house made bread with the local creamy butter that came on the side. It comes in an adorable colorful colander which I think was such a good idea compared to just the usual bread basket. The bread was warm and extra soft. It definitely met the expectations of those delicious carbs I always like to enjoy.
Right after eating the bread, our entrees arrived. So this is a good thing and bad thing. First, it did come out super-fast which is awesome for someone that feels like they could eat double their weight in food. But, our appetizer had not come out yet. Regardless, we began eating our meal and I must say, even if the service was not the greatest, the food knocks it out of the park. I was excited to try the grilled meatloaf which they cook in their wood-fire grill because I have seen so many pictures of it on other review sites. The meatloaf was great. It was seasoned nicely and was moist! It tasted even better dipped in the side of homemade Worcestershire sauce. The mashed potatoes were quite yummy also. They were made with sour cream (YES), and had little subtle chunks and skin in it. I personally love mashed potatoes that are cooked this way. It comforts me that the mashed potatoes used whole, fresh potatoes! The broccoli was blah. I hate to say it but I kill at making broccoli and I am sure that I could make any broccoli hater fall in love. The broccoli was steamed but seemed a little too mushy and was not seasoned at all. Overall, my husband really enjoyed this entrée and was planning on taking half home because it is a larger portion but ended up eating the whole thing and did not regret it at all.
I also really enjoyed my entrée. I never order trout usually but the Sunburst Trout was satisfying. It was cooked perfectly in the woodfired grill and came out light and flaky. The cheese grits paired well with the trout and were not overly cheesy. I love collards and these collards were so enjoyable. They were not too vinegary and you can tell that these came straight from a local farm because the collards were just one big leaf. They were not chopped at all and you would not think cutting collards would be a challenge but for me it was not the easiest. I would definitely suggest for Harvest 18 to chop the collards in the future to make it more fun to eat.
Even though our Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings came out after our meal, they were the star of the show. They were some of the best wings I have had. They were not too sweet or spicy. They start with a tang, then a little heat comes in to play, and then finishes sweet. The dish comes with 7 wings which I believe they were marked for a great price.
Dessert is always such a fun part of the meal. I love looking at the menu at the end and getting excited over all the choices I have. They had a nice dessert selection but something that stood out to me was…Oreo and S’mores. Side note – any dessert list that mentions something with Oreo or s’more, you must believe that that is what I will be ordering. They are my biggest weakness! Well, on this menu was an Oreo S’more Parfait ($6)! I do not think I’ve ever ordered so fast. It came out in a cute mason jar and starting from the bottom there was: graham cracker crumbles, Oreo cookies chopped, chocolate sauce and then toasted marshmallows. It was SO tasty and I would recommend you don’t share this one because it is the perfect portion for one, in my opinion.
Overall, the experience was not my favorite but the food was totally worth it. I would suggest to anyone to stop by Harvest 18 if you are in the area shopping at Southpoint so you can step away from a chain restaurant and eat some delicious homemade, locally sourced food.
Kristel works for an awesome marketing firm in Chapel Hill and studied at Liberty University where she received her Bachelor’s in Business Communications. She is passionate about eating real food and creating homemade meals that she can serve around the table for friends and family. Things that bring her much enjoyment are: being outside, eating at local restaurants, popcorn and watching TV shows with her hubby. On Saturday morning, you can catch her strolling through a farmers market with a latte in hand. Follow her on Instagram @kristel_kazda and check out her blog at athistableblog.com.