For awhile I had wanted to visit the restaurant, Harlow’s Kitchen and Craft Bar in San Juan Capistrano. I heard about it when it first opened several months back and I was dying to know what all of the buzz was about. Finally, this past month, I had an opportunity to dine for dinner at Harlow’s and was pleasantly impressed! Harlow’s Kitchen & Craft Bar is located at 31111 Rancho Viejo Road in the city of San Juan Capistrano, California.
Executive Chef Aaron Anderson works tirelessly to create a constantly changing menu of seasonal fare featuring local and fresh ingredients. Harlow’s Kitchen is awesome in that the entire menu is made from scratch, including pastas, breads, and desserts. All meats, seafood and produce are sourced locally and all food is GMO, antibiotic and hormone free! In addition, there are also gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian selections available. The décor is a rich and elegant vibe and encompasses a throwback to an 1800’s European theme, also mixed with a bit of a New Orleans flare. Another awesome fact about Harlow’s is that they offer late night live music on weekends!
For our dinner, we were fortunate to try a variety of selections from the appetizers, small bites, entrees, and desserts menu as we were dining with friends family style. 🙂 We started off our meal with some cocktails which included “Age of Sage” made with Nolet’s Gin, grapefruit & lemon juice, sage, simple syrup & egg whites & the “Rye Cocktail” designed with Templeton Rye whiskey, orange & grapefruit juice, grapefruit bitters, organic simple syrup & soda. Both of these cocktails were decently priced at $12 each. My personal favorite was the rye cocktail, which actually surprised me because I did not used to be in to whiskey, but the blend of the flavors really had a unique and delicious taste! I also loved; the Age of Sage as I believe you can never go wrong with a cocktail that is prepared with egg whites. 🙂
To pair with our beverages, several plates were brought out to share that included a table favorite, Foie gras that was recently made legal to serve on the menu in California just last month. No matter how excited people get about this one, it still does not float my boat or rock my world, but the table absolutely loved the foie gras and it appeared to be done quite nicely with a pomegranate molasses. If you are a foie gras fan, I recommend this one in regards to my tablemates’ reaction. 🙂
We also had the Seasonal Oysters, the Caprese Flatbread with heirloom tomatoes, basil, burrata & arugula pesto, and the Calamari which was a deep fried calamari steak strips with Fresno chili & honey-miso aioli . My favorite out of the appetizers was the Caprese flatbread, as I am not an oyster or calamari fan, but everyone loved those. It is safe to say that I am the picky eater of the bunch. 🙂 Everything had a gorgeous table presentation and was quickly devoured and it was time for course 2. 🙂
Prior to Course 2, we ordered some wine which included a Cabernet Sauvignon by Justin Winery in Paso Robles, California from 2011 and a Pinot Noir named Lyric by Etude from Santa Barbara, California from 2011. Both of these wines were superb. I loved the wine selection at Harlow’s! We have visited the Justin Winery before and are familiar with several of their wines and they definitely do impress! The other wine, “Lyric” Pinot Noir that my friend ordered was delicious. While I am not as well versed with Pinot Noir as I am with Cabernet Sauvignon, I have recently been fall in love with this varietal. I really liked this glass, as it was smooth and well balanced and not too light and fruity like many glasses of Pinot Noir I have tried in the past.
For course 2 we all shared a classic Caesar salad made with romaine hearts, anchovies, pecorino & fried croutons, pumpkin ravioli tossed in brown butter, sage & saba, brussels sprouts (made gluten free)with house cured pork lardons (vegetarian options available upon request), Drunken Mushrooms, tossed in shallots, onions and chardonnay butter, and Mac ‘N Cheese made with orecchiette pasta with tellegio, fontina, cheddar.
Every single one of these items definitely hit the spot and was full of flavor, but my personal favorite by far was the Mac n’ cheese! This homemade pasta with 3 different types of cheeses definitely melted in your mouth and I had to eat each and every bite on my plate even as I was getting overstuffed! I also thoroughly loved the pumpkin ravioli, which I believe was a special for the evening. Seriously…how do you go wrong with browned butter, pumpkin, and homemade pasta?
For our entrees we all shared the Seasonal White Fish, which was a Chilean Sea Bass (my favorite) grilled with sweet pea purée, tempura cauliflower, radish-arugula salad and a Colorado Rib Eye Cap served with frites, charred tomatoes, Bloomsdale spinach, brioche & demi-glace. Both of these entrees definitely pleased the palette and made all of our mouths water! I think the whole table agreed that the rib eye cap was our personal favorite, but for a lighter affair, the sea bass was cooked beautifully!
For dessert we enjoyed the Beignets – New Orleans style yeast doughnuts with house made hazelnut ice cream & espresso mocha dipping chocolate, homemade peanut butter cheesecake served with fresh whipped cream and pomegranate molasses, and last but not least an apple pie crème brûlée prepared with vanilla crème brûlée topped with roasted apples in caramel and streusel. Out of the desserts, I gravitated towards the peanut butter cheesecake as my number 1, not
only because I am obsessed with peanut butter, but because it was done so well! The flavors were blended together beautifully and this could be my last meal if it were my last night on earth…I am not kidding, this cheesecake was phenomenal. It was a seasonal choice and it was National Peanut Butter Day when I went, but I sincerely hope that have this menu item next time I go back!
When I go back to Harlow’s, I will be getting the Caprese flatbread appetizer, the rib eye cap, Mac n’ cheese, and peanut butter cheesecake…if I have someone to share all of it with! These items certainly were my favorites and I was very pleasantly impressed!
Something awesome about Harlow’s is that they have different types of food for people sensitive o gluten, allergies and dietary restrictions. Look on the menu for these labels if you happen to have a dietary restriction. They definitely aim to please all. [GF] Gluten Free [V] Vegetarian [DF] Dairy Free [VG] Vegan [N] Contains Nuts
Harlow’s also offers a Happy Hour Monday – Thursday 4pm – 7pm, Friday 3pm – 7pm, & Saturday 4pm – 7pm. I know it is always hard to find weekend happy hours, as well as happy hours that have hours as late as these, so that is pretty awesome!
Last but not least, I want to share this really cool offer I found on their website with all of you! If you sign up for Harlow’s newsletter, you can receive a complimentary offer for your next visit! Have you ever been to Harlow’s to dine? Please share your experience below! Happy eating!
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