You might be surprised to find that the organic, sustainable food movement is alive and well in Las Vegas!  At the Bellagio Resort and Casino, you’ll find a modern new space with a spare but impressive decor, featuring huge stone slabs, warm wood accents, and a glassed-in kitchen right in the center.  The food becomes your focus, and the focus here is freshness.  This is Harvest by Roy Ellamar!

Executive Chef Roy Ellamar, born in Hilo, Hawaii, was surrounded by farmers, foragers and fishermen, learning the importance of fresh ingredients at an early age.  Years later, as Executive Chef of Sensi, in the Bellagio, he cultivated strong relationships with Vegas’ local farmers and purveyors.  With Harvest, he’s created a restaurant which exemplifies his philosophy: “Keep things simple, using the freshest product with minimal manipulation, and evoking personal memories through food.”  The seasonal menu, proudly lists his suppliers, and presents dishes that are an homage to the origins of food.  Armed with this knowledge, I was excited to sample the fare!    

My friend Joseph and I settled in at our table, and things got interesting right from the start.  I ordered a cocktail that sounded too odd not to try: Beets By Roy, a deep purple mixture of mezcal, cold pressed beet juice, lemon juice and mandarin syrup, garnished with a beet chip cone filled with creamy goat cheese.  The first sip was rather jarring, with the lemon and mezcal coming on strong, but then the sweet, earthy flavor of the beets took hold and mellowed out the more acidic elements.  This cocktail may not be everyone’s cup of...beets, but it was unique and very enjoyable!

First, we had a visit from the Snack Wagon - various “creations of the moment” to start the meal.  We chose the Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke - a subtle, tasty starter made with dark red chunks of cold, fresh tuna, dressed with red chili, cilantro, and yuzu.  We also tried the Mini Fish Tacos, made with lightly breaded Vermilion Snapper.  The naturally sweet flavor of the snapper with an added squeeze of lime made these the best fish tacos I’ve had!

The menu was divided into several categories, and wanting to sample as wide a variety of dishes as possible, we tried to order at least one item from each.

From the Garden, we selected the absolutely delicious Charred Brussels Sprouts, with maple syrup, mustard seeds, and bourbon soy.  The sweet bourbon cask-aged maple syrup, and the bite of the soy enhanced the flavor of the sprouts, and gave the dish a beautiful balance.  The Grilled Cauliflower, with anchovy breadcrumbs and grilled persimmon, had a homey, comforting flavor, although a touch of lemon, or a pinch of sea salt would’ve given it an extra pop.  Still, both dishes ate beautifully and I’d order them again anytime.

From the Ocean, came the Sashimi Of The Day - steelhead trout dressed in a very light green tea ponzu, which gave it a mild vinegar kick.  The swimmingly fresh trout bore a resemblance to salmon, but was firmer and a bit more chewy.  Crispy jalapeño and pink ginger accompaniments added some heat and acidity, complementing the fish perfectly.

The Ranch provided one of the biggest hits of the night; the Duck Confit Buns - fresh, soft brioche buns, sandwiching tender bits of slow-cooked duck, a layer of foie-gras, and a bit of red onion jam.  Fabulously ducky, with the onion adding a bright note to balance out the richness of the liver and the pleasant gaminess of the duck, these little gems were pure foodie bliss, and we wanted more...and more!

The Boards, however, gave me one dish I didn’t care for; the Pig’s Head Tartine.  I was eager to try this head cheese terrine, knowing full well it’s made from bits of flesh boiled off a pig’s head, set in aspic or gelatin.  Served cold, with country bread, and a truffle aioli, there wasn’t much flavor upfront, but it had a funky, deeply meaty finish, and neither of us liked it much.  And while it wasn’t to my taste, I admitted that a diner who enjoys head cheese would certainly have loved it.  Luckily, we had also ordered the Sensi Naan Bread And Herb Pesto, a pillowy, chewy flatbread served with a yogurt raita, a roasted tomato pesto, and a killer beet top pistu - a stunning holdover from the old Sensi menu!

With the Social Plates finished, we moved on to the Large Plates; our entrées.  Joseph was unable to choose between the Filet Mignon from the Grilled items, and the New England Diver Scallops, prepared in the Stone Oven.  Our accommodating server suggested he could ask the kitchen to combine some of each, and create a Surf & Turf!  The beautifully grilled grass fed beef had a subtly sweet herbal finish, making it irresistible, while the scallops were moist, plump, and perfectly seared.  I opted for the Fisherman’s Stew, a generous portion of assorted seafood - fresh shrimp, mussels, lobster, Manila clams, and more snapper, swimming in a tomato saffron broth that was savory and aromatic - slightly nutty with an exotic floral undertaste.  I also ordered a signature side dish of Farro Porridge - a hearty mix of ancient grains, combined with wild mushrooms, a slow cooked egg, and black truffle.  This was true farm food; rustic and filling, which brought to mind a meal in a warm, dark cabin, on a quiet, snowy night.   

Stuffed as we were, we couldn’t resist a few tidbits from Harvest’s Dessert Cart!  This rolling, treat-filled treasure trove included various hand made Mini Cupcakes, Vanilla Créme Brulée, and other assorted sweets.  We sampled a scrumptious Pear And Almond Tart, with a sweet, sugary almond paste filling, white chocolate covered blueberries, chocolate covered raspberries, coffee beans, and candied peanuts, a little pastry shell filled with a lovely, fluffy, whipped hazelnut/chocolate Gianduja Mousse, and handmade Chocolate Lollipops flavored either with mint, raspberry, or Grand Marnier.  Just amazing!  Our server recommended we also order the Toffee Pudding, a dense sponge cake, drenched in a maple-hazelnut caramel sauce and topped with candied bacon!  

This meal was a food extravaganza, which is ironic, as the food itself was so lovingly simple.  With meats and produce sourced within a 30 mile radius of Las Vegas, and with a chef as talented as Ellamar, you can rest assured that the fare at Harvest will be not only fresh, but fabulous.  Farm-to-table has been taken to the next level!