Monday, March 7, 2011

Harvest Moon dinner ever!

On Friday night Mr. Kummerow took me out for a very special birthday dinner.  I had read about this restaurant and wanted to try it out for myself.  Harvest Moon Grille is a wonderful little place in the Dunhill Hotel in downtown Charlotte.  Just as the sign boasts, it is fair food from local farms!  All the food is locally sourced and much of it is organic. 

Mr. Kummerow called ahead and let Executive Chef Cassie Parsons know that we would be coming and are vegan.  She was excited to create a special menu just for us and greeted us at our table when we arrived.  The executive chef of Harvest Moon Grille is also a farmer!  How cool is that!?  Cassie owns the Grateful Growers farm in Denver, NC which is just down the road from me!

All of the food served at the Harvest Moon Grille is fresh and local.  In the photo above you can see a chalkboard behind our heads that lists all the farms that supply the produce, dairy and meat that is used in the kitchen.  Chef Cassie is passionate about fresh, organic food.  She takes it to the next level with unique dishes that maintain the simplicity and natural flavor of the ingredients.

Our meal started with fresh salads.  She served us two different salads so we could have a great sampling of all of her talents.  Mine was a delicious carrot salad served in a lemon vinigarette.  Mr. Kummerow had the quinoa salad. 
Both were delicious, and there is no way I would be able to choose a favorite.  The carrot salad was so moist without being soggy and the flavor played in my mouth.  The quinoa salad was nutty and savory.  The beans were cooked slightly to add crunch and I loved how they were similar to a nutty snack.  Pickled apple topped the salad and the tang added so much to the flavor profile.  In fact, the whole meal played with the idea of pickled idea that would have me running out the door in the past.  However, since becoming vegan, my palate has changed so dramatically and along with mushrooms and olives, I have also acquired a love for all things pickled.

Served throughout the meal were fresh, hot rolls.
These were miniature sized and I felt no shame in taking one for each course of the meal.  Now excuse me for comparing this amazing meal to a chain restaurant dish, but these rolls are reminiscent of O'Charley's rolls.  O'Charley's has the best rolls in my opinion but are slathered in butter.  They are sweet and light and so tasty.  These rolls were just as great without all the butter.  I was happy to consume 3...ok maybe 4 of these!

For our second course Chef Cassie served us each our own appetizer plate.  The appetizer she had in mind for us was just too good to give us two options.  So Mr. Kummerow and I each received our own plate of these Black Eyed Pea Hummus Collard Wraps.
Notice the garnishes of pickled onions and greens.  These wraps were the best thing I ate all night.  Not that everything else wasn't amazing, but these had me at collard wraps and continued to please right through every last bite of black eyed pea hummus.  I would love to recreate these at home, but I have little hope of ever satisfying the way these wraps did.  The flavor profile was brilliant and they were served atop a bed of crushed pecans.  I could eat this dish all day long!

At this point I was feeling pretty full and we hadn't even started the main course.  Before I could even consider whether I could handle another dish, our server swooped in, cleared our appetizer plates and brought us the next dish.

Mr. Kummerow had this Asian inspired dish:
And I enjoyed these roasted root vegetables served with a side of mustard greens.
Both meals were fresh and delicious.  The flavors in Mr. Kummerow's bowl delighted my taste buds, however, the root vegetables and mustard greens are my favorite combination and I hogged most of my dish without sharing.  Cassie read my mind and included dark, leafy greens in every dish she prepared.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, we were offered this tasting plate of desserts:
Vegan, homemade marshmallows, the very first local strawberries of the season, and homemade dark chocolate truffles.  All served with a hot cup of decaf coffee.
This dessert was love at first bite and we savored it to the very last.  Just looking at the above photo has me salivating.  So wonderful!  Everything I could ask for in a dessert!  The strawberries were so fresh and sweet.  The best part was how excited Cassie was over these fabulous fruits.  I loved her passion for local food and her ability to pair flavors to create a delightful tasting experience.  This was no ordinary dinner but an adventure in culinary creativity and skill.

Mr. Kummerow and I chatted with Chef Cassie about her farm in Lincoln County and while they mostly raise animals we are still planning a visit soon to check it out.  The farm is all about raising amazing animals in a conscientious manner which I can appreciate and support even as a vegan.  Grateful Growers is also planning to host a CSA (community supported agriculture) this summer and we are anxious to purchase shares! 

If you are local I highly recommend a visit to this restaurant.  And even if you are not local, drive by Charlotte and stop in for a treat!  While we were provided a special menu to accommodate our tastes, the regular menu looked appetizing.  The menu changes with the seasons, as the available local and fresh food changes. The price was a little higher than we anticipated, but after further consideration we realized it was just right.  Just as with grocery shopping, you may notice an increase in price for organic and local, but it is well worth it for the responsibly raised food. 

I cannot say enough about this restaurant and how pleased we were with the amazing service, passionate and talented chef and wonderfully appetizing menu.  You will just have to try it out for yourself! 


  1. Tanya: Sounds like an amazing dinner! Restaurant sounds great. So glad you had a great 26th year. God is good!

  2. Im sorry to inform you that as the pastry chef that used to work there, niether the truffles or the marshmellos are vegan. Gelatine, as I am sure you know, is made from animal gelatine. Also I can atest to putting a boat load of cream in the Truffles. I am deeply sorry that you were led to believe what you were eating was vegan. I did not work that night or I would have said something. I feel aweful, as my dear brother is vegan.

  3. Thank you for letting us know about the truffles and marshmallows. I'm not going to lie, we suspected as much about the marshmallows. However, we are still so pleased with our experience at Harvest Moon. Mr. Kummerow and I make "exceptions" for many will hear me mention wedding cake on this blog many times. So while our dessert wasn't all vegan, I believe the chef prepared it with the best of intentions. I know that doesn't help all vegans everywhere but for us it works. Thank you so much for your honesty and sincerity and for caring about our food choices. I think it is wonderful your brother is also vegan and that there are pastry chefs and other chefs that are aware of the vegan diet. Thank you!