There are a lot of things I like about Solon. It’s where I grew up and went to school. My folks are still there. And I’ve made many lifelong friendships in that city with the memories to match. But what’s always been missing from my hometown is quality food. Sure, there are plenty of chains so no one is starving. But other than a great (and greasy) mom and pop diner and the recent addition of Pacific East, let’s just say Solon has never been mistaken for a foodie destination. Though one man is on a mission to change that.
Enter Harvest Kitchen and Lounge in the old Arabica space (and right next door to Solon Wine & Liquor, a great wine shop) on Bainbridge Road. The restaurant, which opened last month, is from well-known local chef Mike Longo, formerly of Umami, ML in Bainbridge and a few other area restaurants.
I’ve been to Harvest now twice, once for lunch and just last week for dinner with a couple of those lifelong friends I grew up with. And am already planning a third trip so I can take my husband. They are close to home, kid-friendly and the food still has me oohing and ahing. So yes, I will be a regular.
The space made quite the impression, too. It boasts a great and relaxing vibe, very simplistic and earthy but well-stated. There’s an impressive bar area, nice-sized dining room and a patio that looks promising (though will need a little work to block out the street).
As for what really matters and what will keep me coming back – the food. For lunch, I enjoyed the most amazing beet salad with smoked bacon, pickled onions, roasted tomato and Maytag blue cheese dressing paired with a grilled gruyere and Lucky Penny goat cheese sandwich with speck Americano. My sister ordered the exact same meal and my daughter had the penne pasta with roasted chicken, roasted tomato, wild mushrooms, peas, shallots and chicken jus (they even made her a half potion of this entrée).
They had me at that salad. I am a sucker for beets and this salad was simply outstanding. The sandwich was good, too, but that salad was really something else. And I helped myself to more than my fair share of my daughter’s pasta (I’m pregnant – don’t judge). If it wasn’t for her, I’d probably never have thought to order that dish – penne with chicken is something I make at home, so I’d never order it out. But I’ve never made anything close to this. It was really a wonderful dish with fantastic flavor all around.
As for dinner with by girlfriends last week, our experience was even better. Let’s just say we cleared each and every plate. We started with an order of the Pat LaFrieda lamb meatballs in this fantastic sauce that I continued to savor with my bread, then of course the beet salad (seriously – you need to try this salad) and an order of the squid ink linguini with Dungeness crab, shrimp, wild mushrooms and uni butter. For dessert, and despite being completely full, we somehow managed to inhale the bread pudding with chocolate, cherries and caramel sauce.
I think you get by now how much I enjoyed the beet salad (if they were open for lunch on Mondays, I’d run up just for this), but was even more smitten with the pasta, meatballs and dessert. Everything we ordered exceeded expectations. I haven’t tried anything quite like that pasta locally and was quite happy our server suggested it. A slight kick and big enough to share, that alone is worth the trip regardless of where you’re coming from.
Post pregnancy, I plan to take full advantage of the raw bar. My friend tried quite a few items as well as people around us. But while still pregnant, I think on my next visit I’ll go for the duck fat fries with bacon and cheddar. I’d feel too guilty ordering that app if I wasn’t.
Solon still has a ways to go to be considered a top destination for food (and not sure they will ever be that), much like many other pockets and neighborhoods around Cleveland. But from what I’ve experienced thus far, Harvest should most definitely be on your radar. They are worth the drive. And if you live within or nearby Solon, your community just greatly improved.