(Editor's Note: Harvest Supper Executive Chef Dan Kardos confirmed with Patch in a phone interview Oct. 9 that he remains in his role with the New Canaan eatery and also will work as exechtive chef at Bar Rosso in Stamford, which is set to open where Bennett's Steakhouse operated. Bar Rosso is owned by Napa & Co.)
Having already scored major successes in New York City with their restaurants Jewel Bako and Jack's Luxury Oyster House, Harvest Supper owners Grace and Jack Lamb's first foray into suburbia has been a big hit, taking New Canaan by storm since 2008. Their knack for recognizing talent is well-documented, and perhaps no better exemplified by the man currently heading up the Harvest Supper kitchen, Dan Kardos.
After almost a decade of serving as the right-hand man to one of the region's most-revered chefs, Bill Taibe (Relish, Napa & Co., Le Farm), this is Kardos' first crack at leading a kitchen, and he has made the most of the opportunity. In fact, what is most impressive about Harvest Supper is Chef Kardos' ability to seamlessly transition the menu from its first incarnation, putting his own thumbprint on it without compromising the restaurant's original philosophy. Varied "small plates" that adorned the charter menu have gone by the wayside, replaced with a more standard structure of appetizers and entrees. But the use of seasonal, sophisticated ingredients more often seen in New York City than New Canaan continues to drive the cuisine, making Harvest Supper a prime culinary destination for locals.
For starters, the Bacon Arancini ($9) was delicious, its crispy exterior concealing a creamy risotto. The accompanying lemon cured clams were an ingenious addition, conjuring up flavors of Clams Casino. Hudson Valley Foie Gras ($19) was an indulgent success, beautifully seared and paired with poached pears, granola, vanilla crème fraiche, and almonds; it could almost pass for dessert.
Another hit was the Flatbread ($10), topped with roasted asparagus, chorizo, marinated fava beans, camembert, and soft boiled farm egg. The paper-thin crackers held up surprisingly well amid the flurry of texture and flavors.
For entrees, Honey Glazed Long Island Duck ($27) drew raves. The moist and rich flavor of the duck was perfectly complemented by a whipped fennel jam, charred kale, stone fruit jus, and candied pecans.
Fettuccini Carbonara ($22) is a dish I've had at many restaurants, but Chef Kardos has produced a version which could possibly transcend all predecessors. Perfectly executed, the combo of fresh pasta, parmesan, egg, pancetta, and peas was so sublime, I was actually sad when the last forkful was consumed.
Kardos is a chef to be taken seriously, but his sense of humor is no more evident than in his Harvest Supper Burger, topped with "special sauce," lettuce, cheese, onions, and pickles on a sesame seed bun…sound familiar? But there is no mistaking this creation for fast food. The buttery Kobe beef exuded a richness of flavor and texture, delightfully complemented with the aforementioned accessories, making one of the three or four most memorable hamburgers I have ever experienced. Accompanied by a pile of seasoned shoestring fries, at $18 this might be the best deal in town.
Desserts include Warm Chocolate Cake ($8), Vanilla Pot de Crème ($8), and a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake ($8). The wine list is impressive and well-conceived, and the beer list, though somewhat concise, includes some terrific labels (Smuttynose Porter and Lagunitas IPA being the highlights). Service is friendly, helpful, and well-timed. The beautifully-decorated, yet postage stamp-sized space (38 seats) fills up quickly, and the noise level can be high making conversation a bit of a challenge. But with food like this, who needs to talk? A full mouth, an empty plate, and a knowing glance across the table sometimes speak louder than words.
15 Elm St.
Lunch: Wed-Fri, 12-2 p.m.
Dinner: Tue-Sat, 5:30-9:30 p.m.