View from the bar at The Harvest
For the first post in this newly-launched writing endeavor, I wanted to explore one of my old haunts that still appeals to me on many levels today, The Harvest restaurant. When I mentioned this to my Aunt (who lives in Glens Falls) she said, “Well, that’s not in Glens Falls. It’s in Queensbury.” So I asked myself if it was right to start this whole project by talking about a Queensbury business. After all, the Queensbury Spartans were the nemesis of the Glens Falls Indians in every way. Could I really do this? And the answer, of course, is yes and here is the reason. The “hometown” theme is more about what I hold dear in my heart in and around Glens Falls than the actual geographic boundaries. You, my reader, may find that I occasionally deviate and cross the line at to enter the 12804 postal area. Thank you in advance for understanding.
On to the Harvest…
A few years back Philip and I started taking up residence for a month each summer at Glen Lake about 5 miles north of the center of Glens Falls. One of the most convenient places to stop for dinner was the Harvest. I had not been there in years and had absolutely no expectations about it becoming one of my favorite places. However, on the very first visit (after decades of not dining there), I was smitten. Part of become a huge fan of this restaurant comes from being a kid and remembering the taste of the pizza. It is just so darned good and it possess a particular flavor and crispy crust that no one can replicate. This may be attributed to the consistency of ownership since 1972. The other reasons that I love this place are more about me as an adult and what I like today.
Reason #1: The bar. The atmosphere is super friendly and I like to look around to see if there are any old familiar faces. Sometimes, I spot one or they spot me. This is delightful. There is also sport game on the TV at any given moment. In the summer we do not have television at the camp so it is especially appealing to see some baseball while we have our night out. But the best thing about the bar is that nothing has really changed. It is the same as I remember it from years ago. (This is also true about the restaurant area where families and bigger parties dine.) That aspect of the place touches a deep and nostalgic part of me. When so much in my hometown is lost or different, this place remains unaltered.
Reason #2: The pour. Although the wine and beer list is pretty standard, the Harvest holds the record (in my mind) for largest glass of wine. I mean this thing is filled all the way to the top! (see photo below) I usually order Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and if I can consume an entire glass, the staff are willing to sell me a half-glass to help me finish off the night.
Reason #3: The price. Philip and I have become accustomed to Saratoga and New York City prices as that is where we’ve spent the majority of our time in the last few years. Dropping $60 on dinner for two is the starting point at most restaurants, good or bad. At the Harvest, we can split a pizza for under $16 and feel totally satisfied by the amount and quality of the food. Add on the world’s largest glass of wine and a beer (for Philip) and we are out of there for under $35. As the family bookkeeper, this makes me very happy.
Reason #4: The bartender. Ok, I am not going to mention this woman by name but if you have ever stepped foot in the Harvest bar, you probably know who I am talking about. When this particular bartender is working, she is running the show. She never stops talking to everyone around her, bantering with coworkers and customers, and she never stops complaining. At first, Philip and I were pretty put off by her. We both wondered how anyone so boldly voicing such contempt for a job could keep a job. Did she own the place?
Then little by little she began to win us over. We started to notice that the bar customers liked her and that she knew just about everyone who came into the place. To our amazement, we started to find her amusing—the bar is her theater an she is the star of the show. We also noticed that underneath all of the sassy-ness and saucy talk, she has a good heart and she is a efficient worker. This conclusion was confirmed the other night when Philip left his cell phone at the bar. When I called to inquire about it, she could not have been nicer and assured us that she would put it in a safe and secure place until we could pick it up. She also told me I could come by as early as 8:00 the next morning and she would make sure that someone in the kitchen got me the phone. We were really impressed. I love being challenged to give up what I think I know and find an unexpected twist to a story. Bravo, Ms. Bartender.
Reason #5: The unflappable flexibility. When I go to dinner, I like to be able to have what I like, and I can be picky and unpredictable. I don’t want the same thing every time. So when Philip decides that he’s in the mood for the “Harvest Best” pizza with no mushrooms, and I am craving the “Rachel Ray” with extra hot peppers, that is no problem.They will do half a pizza with my special ingredients and half with Philip’s choice. When our Auntie and Uncle Bob join us for pizza they like cheese all the way to the edge of the pizza and the crust extra crispy. The response is always the same, “Sure thing. You got it.” I have never been told by a Harvest employee that I can’t have something exactly the way I want it. In the end, for all of the special requests that we have mustered up, the attitude that gets served might be spicy sometimes but never rotten.