The Harvest Cuisine: Quality And Quantity

Hannah Selinger

Somewhere in the middle of Woody Allen’s 1977 masterpiece “Annie Hall,” the neurotic protagonist Alvy Singer recalls the following joke: “Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort and one of ‘em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know, and such small portions.’” In restaurant parlance, I can translate that joke as a comment about what people really, truly want. Yes, the food should be good, but, more importantly, don’t serve me a small plate of pasta. Luckily, at Montauk’s Harvest on Fort Pond, the portions are anything but small.

No, I mean it. Harvest on Fort Pond (known to the locals as the Harvest) is actually known for its insane portion sizes, and they’re part of the draw. The restaurant, which is perched on picturesque Fort Pond, does a series of things well. Its garden, for instance — an assortment of tables that seem to crop right up out of the wildflowers — is summer at its finest. And the sunset? That pink-orange explosion is something anyone would want entrance to. If you’re faced with a wait (a seasonal inevitability), stroll down the restaurant’s short dock for an incomparable view of the water.

But the reason that people come back to Harvest, year after year, is for the near-hilarity of it. I once ordered a lamb rib appetizer that arrived on a serving platter large enough to feed 10 adults. I was transported, in that moment, back to a restaurant of my collegiate youth, a place called Carmine’s on the Upper West Side, where chicken parm came in sheet tray-sized servings.

The family-style concept has come a long way in the United States (I say the United States because Europeans have been sharing their food for generations). Carmine’s, now closed, paved the way for high-concept Carbone, and for places like Harvest, which brings this same ethos of conviviality to the East End. The menu can be defined, with broad brush strokes, as Mediterranean. For appetizers, there are charbroiled oysters, stuffed with spinach, parmesan, and chipotle butter; those dinosaur-ish lamb ribs, with ginger and garlic; globes of burrata over beefsteak tomatoes marinated in a basil pesto; Prince Edward Island mussels with garlic, shallots, and parsley; and more.

There are salads — salads large enough for an army of green-eaters. Pizzas are good, if of average proportions, but pastas come in servings that are literally pounds. How to choose between farfalle with sausage and peas or rigatoni with a veal Bolognese? Entrees are no more demure. The pork tenderloin, glazed with an apricot-apple chutney, is an arm-length slab of meat.

But a porterhouse steak? That, my friends, is 42 ounces of tastiness, served with green peppercorns, shallots, and garlic. It’s the first steak I had with the man who is now my husband, and maybe it’s memorable for that reason alone — though the sheer size does help. Do we even need to talk about how many profiteroles come in a serving? The dish is as large and as decadent as you would reasonably expect.

If the Hamptons conjures up images of scantily clad, scantly fed waifs dining on lettuce leaves, let Harvest impart upon you the ever-fashionable trend of leaving a restaurant full. This is not the delicate fare of the person who pushes food around the plate until the after-dinner drinks can commence. No. This is the food of the actual lover of food. Such small portions? Don’t even consider the thought. Like Alvy Singer’s fictional women, Harvest on Fort Pond knows that the greatest sin is to serve too little at mealtime.

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