June 9, 2011

The Harvest Cafe

By Eric Shangraw

June 9, 2011 Updated Jun 16, 2011 at 2:31 PM CDT

A restaurant in Delavan is serving some of the freshest food available.

It goes straight from the farm to the table.

We are checking out The Harvest Cafe in this week's You Gotta Eat.

The Harvest Café is authentic fine dining in downtown Delavan. A rich décor and Thursday lunch crowd is just one sign of something special.

Back in the kitchen, those trained in the culinary arts work their trade with precision. Each order prepared from scratch. Ribs go into a smoker in the back yard. Most menu items served are harvested by local producers, including this load of variegated leaf lettuce we watched getting delivered and was picked earlier today.

"I wanted to do a farm to table chef driven restaurant," said owner Libby Mathers. "Like the way food used to be. Not a franchise. I'm anti-franchise," she said.

"I would say it is more like home style food, with modern cooking techniques," said Executive Chef Cameron Urban. "And a little bit of a modern twist to it as well," he said.

"Everything is nice," said customer Benjamin Hayes. "It is all local. So it keeps it really nice. Nothing is preserved or anything like that. You can really taste that in the food," he said.

Photographer Doug Smith orders the half rack of barbecue ribs. Instead of the spicy mustard barbecue sauce he goes with a homemade steak sauce on the side. The meat, fall-off-the-bone good. Doug also likes the fresh cut fries and fennel slaw.

I have a pork loin sandwich. Between the toasted fresh bread paired with the meat is a gryere cheese (like Swiss) some onion rings and a smoked apple butter which sets the dish apart. More onion rings on the side. It is a smart and memorable combination of flavors. Our bill with drinks, $26.47 plus tip.

No matter where you live in central Illinois, The Harvest Café in Delavan is worth the drive.

The Harvest Café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at various points through the week. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

The Harvest Cafe
317 Locust St.
Delavan, IL
309-244-7000

Breakfast:
Saturday at 7am
Sunday 8am

Lunch:
Wednesday-Sunday 11am

Dinner:
Wednesday-Saturday 5pm

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