Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pint Sized Portions at Plow & Harvest VIP Preview (CLOSED)

Plow & Harvest
Plow & Harvest is a new restaurant that just opened to the public on August 16, 2013 and is located in the West End of Edmonton. Their focus is on serving updated comfort food favourites in a casual environment, using and promoting local ingredients. I was invited to their VIP Preview on August 15 in order to see the restaurant and taste the food that they would be offering.
Moo rides the Tractor
When we arrived at Plow & Harvest, there was a giant red tractor with a white picket fence located front and centre of the expansive restaurant. Although they wouldn’t allow humans to ride it, they let yours truly get up on it to get a few pictures. The restaurant itself was light, bright, airy and large, with a mixture of bar height communal tables, regular height two and four tops, along with some bar height banquette seating near the back of the restaurant. The open kitchen was located along the back along with self-serve Boylan Soda machines. Many tables also had touch screen devices on them with the menu as well as a variety of games for children and adults alike.

Spacious Restaurant
Their offerings that evening came in Moo sized portions, whimsically plated in miniature mason jars and miniature cast iron Dutch ovens, allowing us to try many different menu items. Although @thepolishviking and Moo were able to try all of the samples they offered that evening, unfortunately my other dining companion, Jamie, was not so lucky. Being a vegetarian, I had checked via Twitter that they would be able to accommodate her dietary restrictions, which they confirmed wouldn’t be a problem. However, when we asked the server what dishes she would be able to try as they brought out the first sample, they went to check with the kitchen. Upon their return they informed us there would only be three items that evening she could eat, including hand cut plank fries, baked mac-n-cheese without the bacon bread crumbs and spicy pickles, which was a far cry from what I would consider being able to accommodate a vegetarian.

Touch Screen with Games
Plow & Harvest started the evening by serving house made iced tea and lemonade. The servers were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, informing us that the iced tea was brewed 24 hours in advance. Also available were bottles and glasses of Boylan Sodas, as well as red and white wine. Shortly after, they brought out samples of their baked potato soup topped with smoky bacon, sharp cheddar, sour cream and green onions in miniature metal pails. The soup itself was hearty and creamy, with all of the various elements working well together.

@thepolishviking's drawing of Moo
Next they served the first of the three vegetarian friendly dishes, hand cut plank fries in a miniature cast iron Dutch oven. The fries themselves were under seasoned and not crispy enough for my liking. Although it wasn’t the tastiest thing we ever had, Jamie wound up eating multiple portions in a bid to eat at least a decent amount, as she knew that there would be little else she could eat. Their spicy pickles were served in miniature mason jars, however my dining companions found the spiciness didn’t work with the pickles, which were also texturally undesirable as they were soggy instead of crunchy. At this point, we tried to flag down a member of their serving staff to point out to them that they were serving a lot of finger food without providing napkins. Unfortunately, servers seemed hard to come by to ask for either napkins or drink replenishments, so we wound up waving down someone who was part of the PR staff, who thankfully brought napkins out shortly after for all the tables.

Baked Potato Soup
Their Not So Sloppy Joe with ground feeb, sweet peppers and melted cheddar on artisan bread also failed to impress my dining companions. Although the components were all there, the cheddar wasn’t melted which we discovered when we opened the sandwich up, revealing still shredded instead of melted cheddar, and the feeb was too sweet for the female human’s liking. The P&H Grilled Cheese with melted spicy jack cheese blend, smoky bourbon bacon jam, arugula and roasted tomatoes on whole grain bread also disappointed @thepolishviking, the female human and Moo. We all agreed that a grilled cheese sandwich should star the cheese, which there was too little of. As well, although the mildly sweet bacon jam and roasted tomatoes tasted good, they overpowered the already scant cheese. @thepolishviking also noted that the bread was overly toasted and dry, to the point that she felt that it was scraping the inside of her mouth in a very unpleasant manner. Lastly, the baked Mac-N-Cheese with bacon breadcrumbs had a nice crunch on top from the breadcrumbs, but we found the sauce to be soupy and tasted only lightly of cheese.
Not So Sloppy Joe

We had been at Plow & Harvest for almost 2 hours at this point and asked a server what else was coming, and although there was still a chicken sandwich to be served, we opted to leave early as we were still starving and less than impressed with the items we’d already been served, as well as disappointed that there would be no dessert served. Considering there were much more interesting and unique items on the menu such as BBQ Bison Meatloaf, Hickory Smoked Bison Sausage, and a Frozen Custard Sandwich, we weren’t sure that pickles and fries were necessarily the best things to serve in order to show off the best they had to offer to Edmonton Media, food bloggers, and other VIP’s in attendance.

P&H Grilled Cheese
I would suggest that any other restaurant looking to host a VIP event or a new restaurant looking to preview their menu to media in order to get word of mouth going, that they choose more unique items to serve. Also, the owners, management and Executive Chef of Plow & Harvest could have done a better job of making the rounds. We saw the Executive Chef talk to a few tables, but although he passed our table at least 4 times and we tried to flag him down to talk to him, he walked passed and away from us every time. Those who we thought were the owners spent most of their time in the middle of the restaurant chatting with one another, only visiting one table on our side of the restaurant when they were taken over by the Executive Chef.

Baked Mac N Cheese
We also saw neither hide nor hair from the restaurant manager or even PR firm. I would recommend that whomever was in charge of the restaurant or event should have at least attempted to visit each table once during the evening to see how the evening was going for their guests. At other VIP events and openings I’ve attended, usually the owner, manager or publicist tries to touch base with all attendees to answer questions, listen to feedback or just to tell the story of the restaurant. It would have also been an opportunity for them to help rectify minor problems such as lack of napkins being provided for the finger food being served and the fact that we were told there would be food for vegetarians, when in reality, the only things she was provided with were very small portions of side dishes. Whether this was a miscommunication between the Executive Chef and the publicity team doing the tweeting for them, we don't know. Also, I would recommend that they and other restaurants  in the future provide either slightly larger portions or more samples in order to satisfy attendees appetites.  Although the point of serving small samples was to allow everyone to taste a greater variety of menu items, when hosting a VIP event during the dinner hour, they should have at least offered enough food that we didn’t wind up having to seek sustenance elsewhere. @thepolishviking, Jamie and Moo had automatically assumed that since the event was over dinner that there would be a sufficient amount of food that we would not have to eat dinner prior to the 5pm start, unfortunately we were wrong.

Goody Bag
When we left, they provided us with gift bags containing a jar of pickles, chocolate with nuts in it, and a bottle of Boylan Soda. I would suggest for other restaurants doing an opening that they also provide a gift certificate in order to encourage attendees to return, which is a practice I have seen at many other VIP events and grand openings. I realize that sometimes opening events can be quite chaotic and not a very good representation of how they would normally run, however, without an incentive to return like a gift certificate, it would be unlikely for Moo, who lives downtown and doesn’t own a car, to intentionally plan to go to Plow & Harvest since it’s in a bit of an awkward location, and the food wasn’t exceptional enough that I felt enticed to return to try the remainder of their menu.

Overall, I wasn’t particularly impressed with their food, their service, or the lack of opportunity to speak with someone associated with the restaurant other than the frazzled serving staff. I doubt I would make a trip specifically to eat at Plow & Harvest given their location and the impression their food made on Moo.

More photos at PhotoBucket!

Plow & Harvest
10041 170 Street
Edmonton, AB  T5P 4R5
Twitter: @plowharvest

UPDATED (October 28, 2013): CLOSED

Plow & Harvest on Urbanspoon

(Note: There was no financial compensation from Plow & Harvest for this blog post, although they provided free drinks, food and a swag bag. Any review provided by me will completely reflect my thoughts and opinions – good or bad, and will not be swayed by having free drink, food and a swag bag provided.)


  1. Moo was lucky she avoided the Tuesday event. Was at a table of a dozen odd people who were served literally nothing but drinks for over an hour. My guest and I were lucky enough to get a taste of their sliders (tuna and fried chicken) as well as their fries before we were sat.

    After 45 minutes with several promises of food 'in a few minutes' we just left. Neither of us were so desperate for free snacks we were willing to wait several hours to try them.

    What we did taste was delicious. And the wait staff were friendly enough.

    1. It's so disappointing their first public event happened that way. It does sound like some, but not all, of the kinks for the public sneak peak were rectified for the VIP Preview. However, you'd think that they would've done a soft opening with friends and family (ie. a more forgiving group of customers) to work these out before inviting a bunch of strangers to dine at their restaurant.

  2. Actually there were desserts, just not for everyone. Our waitress told us we already had all the food available, but after we left (and we left at the end) I found out on Twitter that a "select few" got to try the frozen custard sandwich.

    Oh and also I did not get a goodie bag because they ran out. The response was: "I don't know why we didn't make more! We thought we had enough... Oh well guess you'll just have to come back some other time."

    1. That is really disappointing that they only offered desserts to a select few as we specifically asked our server whether or not there would be dessert and were told no. Then we told them how much we really wanted to try the frozen custard and were told "sorry". I did see that another food blogger was given some frozen custard to try by the chef. Frankly, I think it's poor form to give one group preferential treatment over another when you're putting on an event to generate positive buzz for your restaurant. Particularly since everyone probably would have enjoyed dessert and it sounds like the frozen custard was pre-prepared by Pinnochio Ice Cream, so it's not like there was any special prep or effort required by the kitchen in order to serve it.

      It seems a bit haphazard the way the event was organized. We actually arrived early, along with another twosome, and we tried going in early and were told we would have to wait outside for another 20 minutes as they weren't ready.

      Overall, I wasn't impressed by the food. The servers were friendly, although haggard by the end. However, I can't comment on the chef, owners or management as we were unable to touch base with them, despite trying to get the chef to stop and talk with us.

    2. I definitely agree with you. This type of preferential treatment does not make customers happy. I sent an email to management and they replied that it was not their intention to create an imbalance in service and that they will take my feedback "under advisement".

      And yes I was part of the twosome that got kicked out with you! I was the one who came up to you to ask if you were going to the event, but I didn't know it was you at the time (Moo was not visible) or I would've said hi. Maybe next time :)
      But yea... I have NEVER been asked to leave a restaurant after I was already SEATED.

      The chef finally did come by our table at the very end. He seemed like a very nice guy and was enthusiastic about his work. Too bad the front end is so disorganized though.

    3. Definitely say hi next time!

      I wish we had the opportunity to talk to the chef but no such luck.

      I actually knew someone who worked there, the Director of Operations, and had asked someone at the beginning (not sure if they were a manager, owner, etc because when I spoke with them they didn't introduce themselves), if they could tell them to come say hi when they had a chance, but the guy didn't bother going into the kitchen to tell them, so I doubt he was ever even told that I was there.

  3. Yeah, it would have been nice for everyone to have dessert and not just the "chosen few." Give me a break! The meal felt very incomplete. I was not a happy camper.


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