It has been many years since I’d eaten in a Harvester. This national salad and grill restaurant purports to offer ‘quick service, cheap food and unlimited salad and drinks’. It used to be that you built your own plate of food by choosing a meat, sauce and side, with the addition of the fill-your-own salad bowl. It seems Harvester have departed from this concept and now offer a comprehensive menu with dishes to select. You can swap items out if desired, and it was good to see labelling for vegetarian and vegan options on the standard menu. I was surprised at the fact a chain renouned for being meat orientated had not one but three vegan main course options, and this was the reason the family decided to pay them a visit. Expectations were low based on past experience, it has to be said, but if Toby Carvery could get the thumbs up from Mr. Canny, maybe Harvester could too.
We arrived bang on 12 for our table reservation. There was a delay in seating us as apparently they were still doing a crossover from the Breakfast Menu. The dining area was still filled with bean covered dishes and discarded glasses of OJ. Not the best welcome, especially as we weren’t asked if we wanted any drinks while we waited once we were shown to our table. It took at least 15 minutes for anyone to ask if we were ready to order and that was also the point the question arose about beverages. As you can tell from my photo, it was hardly busy either.
The Teen is a huge fan of Halloumi Fish & Chips so he said he would eat vegetarian food on this particular family trip out. He also ordered a portion of Mac & Cheddar Cheese Bites as a starter from their Tapas-Style Menu.
While waiting for our main courses, we headed for the salad bar. As we arrived just after 12pm it was full with crunchy vegetables, pasta salad and other buffet accompaniments. I’m always a bit wary of these counters in terms of how fresh the food is, but we certainly had no complaints. It was also good to see the vegan labelling on the spread but unfortunately their rolls contain milk so aren’t suitable for us. Something they need to work on!
We asked to see the allergen menu to check whether the Falafel & Hummus in the Tapas-Style Starter section was suitable for vegans, as well as the pasta on the salad bar. This wasn’t as comprehensive as we would have liked and only listed the allergens, not all of the ingredients for the dish. The pasta didn’t contain milk or eggs so we were safe, and it appeared the Falafel dish was also ok. We thought it might have been due to cross contamination this was listed as vegetarian only on the menu so we decided to order it regardless.Both starters were reasonably sized, although we personally felt there could have been a little more generous with the Hummus. Along with the unlimited salad this would probably be a decent lunch option for those not wanting anything too heavy. Not us, however!
The Teen hoovered up his Halloumi while Mr. Canny tucked into his Stuffed Red Peppers. A mix of his favourite black beans and the superfood quinoa, he found it a substantial portion. The presentation of the dish wasn’t great, but I wasn’t really expecting Instagram-worthy plates to be fair to the team. I ordered the Aubergine and Red Lentil Tagine as my main course, which came confusingly with a side of guacamole and folded tortilla – not the flatbread listed on the menu. I found the tagine quite sweet with the apricots and raisins, although there was a vague hum of heat in the background. While the other members of the family cried off dessert I took one for the team and ordered the only vegan pud on the menu.I was a little wary about the use of coconut milk as I felt it would be too sweet and sickly, but the sharp raspberry compote it was served with balanced this out. It has to be said that service was slow on this particular day and the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy. Whether they were short staffed is hard to say, but we had to prompt for the bill and our empty plates weren’t cleared away between courses. The bill was reasonable enough at just under £55 for our food, drinks and beer for Mr. Canny. I wouldn’t be deterred from returning again as I feel Harvester have put real effort into providing for those with dietary requirements like our own.
Thanks for reading,