Harvest Table is a nice addition in Locust Point

It's just the thing for a gentrifying neighborhood

Eats: dining reviews, Hot Stuff

May 20, 2004|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The transformation of Tide Point might be Exhibit A in the Case of the Gentrifying Locust Point. In the past few years, the Depression-era Procter & Gamble soap factory has become a thoroughly modern office complex.

Employees in the brick buildings at the end of Hull Street enjoy such amenities as great views of the harbor and skyline, ample parking, water-taxi service and a day-care center.

And, since February 2003, they've had an attractive breakfast and lunch option in the form of Harvest Table, a sunny, welcoming restaurant at the entrance to the complex.

In truth, the restaurant isn't that different from other terrific coffee shops in Baltimore. (Evergreen in Roland Park and Caffe Brio in Federal Hill spring to mind.) It seems that every Baltimore neighborhood needs at least one place selling baked goods and upscale sandwiches in a sunny, modern space.

Owner and chef Greg Nalley, formerly of the Maryland Jockey Club, serves fresh-baked muffins, made-from-scratch soups and a tantalizing roster of salads and sandwiches during the week. He also offers specials each day.

In addition to the usual coffee drinks, Harvest offers smoothies made with mango, black cherry, guava and other fruits. You choose one juice and two fruits, then decide if you want such extras as bee pollen and ginkgo biloba. Harvest also has a full liquor license.

On Saturdays, the restaurant switches to a brunch menu. This is a great time to visit. With the offices closed, the area feels like an undiscovered urban gem.

The restaurant has its own parking lot and several metal tables for eating outside. Inside, the large unadorned windows create an open, airy feeling. You can see the brick Tide Point buildings and railroad tracks, but not the water - you have to walk half a block to the promenade, where you can watch sailboats and water taxis float by.

Customers order at the counter, and food is brought to them. They can sit at blond-wood tables near the front door or in the cozy seating area toward the back of the restaurant. Lingering is encouraged, as evidenced by a magazine rack loaded with reading materials ranging from City Paper to Self.

Several small televisions are tuned to news stations, with closed captioning so the gentle sounds of Miles Davis and other jazz geniuses can set the mood. In a particularly nice touch, one of the television monitors is set to tell what music is playing.

Even simple items like pancakes or eggs are given a little extra flair. Pancakes are sweeter and thinner than the typical puffed-up diner fare and sport slightly charred edges. They are served already doused in maple syrup, with sliced strawberries on top. The griddle fries that come with the eggs are savory chunks of barely firm potatoes.

And the Carolina Layered Breakfast, probably the most ambitious item on the menu, is a marvel of tastes and textures, from the creamy, mild grits and eggs to the sharp cheddar cheese, soft tomato bits and crisp, salty-mapley chunks of bacon on top.

The muffin of the day, a raspberry cream cheese, might be sitting on the counter, still warm in its tin when you arrive. A sweet raspberry glaze provides a crunchy topping to the lemony, light muffins, tunneled through with the cheese.

The brunch menu also includes a hamburger, chicken pancakes with pear salsa and, for carb watchers, a plate of seared salmon with spinach. Nothing costs more than $8.

Nalley says he has no immediate plans to open for dinner. For now, he's building up a catering business during off hours.

Harvest Table

Where: 1000 Hull St., Locust Point

Call: 410-837-0073

Open: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Credit cards: All major

Prices: $2.25-$7.75

Food: *** 1/2

Service: ***

Atmosphere: ** 1/2

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