Events — 18 September 2013
The 18th Annual “Harvest in the Square” Lights Up 16th Street

Blog: Harvest in the Square: The People

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The Union Square Partnership has served the surrounding neighborhood for almost four decades, focusing on the development and beautification of the perpetually popular part of town. With proceeds dedicated toward an array of different initiatives from more seating to different community programs offered free of charge, the 18th Annual “Harvest in the Square” event was held on Tuesday night, welcoming in hundreds of patrons from in and around the neighborhood. The walk around food and drink sampling showcased the dozens of notable restaurants in the Union Square area, supplemented with live music, interaction with chefs, and the opportunity to sip on some tasty wines and liquors, all underneath a massive white tent housing it all.

With more than fifty different restaurants participating, there was simply no way to taste everything offered up during the ninety minute all-you-can-handle frenzy, but there were certainly some highlights. First and foremost, we were pleased to shake hands with New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and his son, co-host of Good Day New York, Greg Kelly- both of whom could not have been more gracious in meeting excited attendees, between chews of each dish. The event was incredibly well attended without being oversold, which was a nice change of pace because there was never a wait for any food or wine throughout the course of the evening. And with prices at $125 for general admission guests and at $400 for VIPs, “Harvest in the Square” was an undoubted success for the enrichment of the neighborhood.

Blog: Harvest in the Square: The Food

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Equipped with stations running the gamut from seafood to vegetables to meat to pork – and with no shortage of desserts – there was something for every palate at “Harvest in the Square.” And while the area’s most highly regarded restaurants like Craft and Union Square Café certainly had a grand presence at the event, it was some of the lesser known places that truly stood out to our taste-buds. Newly opened eatery The Fourth was among our first stops once underneath the oversized tent and their mouthwatering “Rabbit Porchetta” was as delectable as anything we tasted all evening. Topped with smoked bacon and atop a summer squash lasagna, we were hard pressed to find a more unique or complete dish in our repeated travels around the space. We also went similarly wild for Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse whose traditional “Short Rib Sliders” packed tender cuts of meat into a fluffy doughy bun, topped with a dollop of crème fraiche. Not to belabor the meat-laden dishes, but Wildwood Barbecue brought a succulent “Grilled Pork Tenderloin” doused in sweet peach barbecue sauce on a bed of creamy cole slaw, which we admittedly returned for more than once.

Union Square Café and ‘wichcraft were seemingly on the same page with USC’s “Italian Summer Garden Foccacia” and ‘wichcraft’s “Squash and Goat Cheese Bruschetta” topping our list of meatless favorites. Tarallucci e Vino’s outstanding “Capsante Curdo” combined elements of freshly chilled scallops, hearts of palm, and crunchy pomegranate, in a delicious conglomerate of flavor. And Blue Water Grill’s “Red Snapper Ceviche Tacos” brought out a kick with their pickled jalapenos embedded in a red cabbage slaw. Pressed to choose a favorite – we’re unable to do so. There were literally so many outstanding dishes to enjoy on this night, we were kicking ourselves for not having attended in previous years. Aleo’s shots of “Limoncello,” Alison Eighteen’s “Sweet Corn Noodle with Brown Butter,” 5 Napkin Burger’s “Pork Tacos with Kimchee Slaw,” and Big Daddy’s’ bulbous “Mini Mac Daddy” were all delicious in their own right.

Accompanied by some downright excellent Rieslings from the Finger Lakes and beers from Heartland Brewery to wash it all down, the fare being served on Tuesday evening was on par with any food event thus far this year. Backed by the brisk September air, a live band covering classic rock tunes, some local celebrity sightings, and a room filled with people simply taking it all in, it’s hard to imagine anyone in Manhattan having a better time than the attendees at “Harvest in the Square.” Some restaurants we had known and others we hadn’t, but collectively, all the participants shined bright on this night.

-Jane Van Arsdale

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