Sunday, January 17, 2010

Harmoni Market

Great meal and nice ambience, that's what I'll remember most about Harmoni Market in College Park. It was only the fact that our first choice for dining on a Saturday evening had a line out the door that brought us here, though I had eaten at this Harmoni location once before and found it exellent. I'm glad we stopped here!

My friend Tommy and I were out and about and I remembered my previous good experience here. He remembered our previous bad experience at their other location in Longwood, but we decided to give it a try here, based on my suggestion. Good choice!

We were promptly greeted. I asked for table by the window, but it turned out to be a small table, so we asked if we could sit at a larger one. No problem at all! I like that. The waitstaff was very attentive and friendly. The hostess and a manager all stopped by at one time or another and our waiter, Justin, was very helpful and efficient.

I had a glass of the Avalon Cabernet Sauvingnon with my meal. It was OK, not outstanding, but a nice full bodied red wine. Tommy had the Two Princes Riesling--a very nice wine indeed, a bit sweet, but also very flavorful.

We started out with indecision. I wanted an appetizer, but serveral looked interesting. Finally, we decided on the "trio" special, three appetizers. They were the Spinach & Artichoke DipBaked Ricotta Dip, and Moroccan White Bean Dip. They were served with Pita chips and also some thin-sliced, toasted and buttered bread, almost like a chip. The Spinach and Artichoke was my favorite, it had a nice flavor of artichoke in it. The baked ricotta was also very good with a nice cheesy flavor and a bit of a stringiness to it that made it fun. The white bean dip was OK, but just OK. I'm not sure what made it moroccan, though a bit of red "stuff" (probably a bit of peppers) on top did add to the flavor. It was my least favorite, I'd order the other two again.

I started out with Tomato Bisque Soup. For me, this was a home run. The soup had a great tomato flavor and a nice, somewhat chunky texture. It was well seasoned but not over-seasoned, so the tomato was definitely the star of this dish. I could eat a quart of it!

We both had side salads that were also a hit. The house balsamic dressing was very good, not to acidic, and kind of thick. There was a lot of frisse as well as other microgreens. These were accented by parmesan curls, they added a lot of flavor. Crisp croutons, some roasted red peppers, and a bit of cucumber all combined to make this a very tasty salad. It was served with a thin slice of a very tasty bread.

Even though we were getting full, we were excited when our entrees arrived. We had a hard time deciding on what to order. As it turned out, my top two pics were identical to my friends, so we each got to taste our second choice. Tommy had the Flat Iron Steak. This was a nice sized piece of very flavorful flat iron steak, cooked perfectly to his desired medium. It was topped with a fig balsamico reduction and blue cheese. I will say that the portion of the fig balsamico was, I thought, just a bit too much. It was very sweet and served as a nice counterpoint to the richness of the blue cheese, but the sweetness also somewhat overwhelmed the flavor of the steak. Don't get me wrong, it was all excellent, but just a bit too much sweetness for my liking. But the steak...oh my! It was very tasty indeed. 

Both of our meals were served on a bed of perfectly cooked asparagus spears along with some Garlic Mashed Potatoes. The potatoes were perfectly cooked, the garlic flavor nice and sweet. The potatoes were roughly mashed with the skins on, giving them a nice and interesting texture. My only complaint was that they were perhaps a bit over-salted. I'd rather have my potatoes undersalted and add salt at the table if I desired. Still they were very good. And the asparagus was perfectly prepared, not overcooked, young, juicy, and tender. A hit!

For my entree, i had the Tuscan Pork Cutlet. This was a nice pork cutlet that was breaded an fried, cooked to a perfect consistency. The breading was crips and flavorful, the pork tender and equally flavorful. This was topped by a "marinted mushroom, caramelized onion, and tomato cream sauce." The sauce was delicious and flavorful, a wonderful compliment to the pork and a nice addition to the garlic mashed potatoes. I loved it.

It was hard to find any fault with this meal. From the somewhat quiet ambience of the Harmoni Market's bistro-like atmosphere, to the attentive waitstaff to the excellent food, Harmoni is a real gem. They are also a part of the local "slow food" movement, so i was happy to patronize them. The slow food movement emphasizes small local restaurants who use many local ingredients raised with an eye to sustainability. Harmoni Market does a great job with their food. Our experience here was excellent. The total bill before tax and tip was $62. I did not say it was cheap, I said it was good! Good always trumps cheap when it comes to good eats!

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