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Harvester Pub & Grill

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    82 Reviews
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      28.03.2013 19:48
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      cheap and chearful

      This is a great grill chain. Reasonable food at reasonable prices.
      They have introduced a new menu system over the last few years where you pick 3 different items.
      Firstly you pick your main (e.g. grill, steak, burger, sausages etc.), then you add your side ( mash, chips, new potatoes, rice of baked potatoes) and a sauce (ketchup, mayo, piri, parsley with creme fraiche and many others)
      This is good, because it means that you can customise your meal without the awkwardness of having to ask the waitress to change items.
      The average meal cost is about £8-£12 ish. This comes with a free unlimited salad bar.
      I would rave about the salad bar, it comes with warm fresh bread rolls, potato salad, pasta salad, lettuce cucumber etc, and choices of dressings such as red devil, vinagerette and blue cheese. With crutons and onion and becon crispes.
      The soft drinks are £2.25 and are unlimited refils. (lemonade, pepsi max, diet pepsi and pepsi), however you have to refill them yourselves, so it does slightly detract from the eating experience.
      The alcahol is very reasonable, you can get a local beer for roughly £2.50-£3.00
      However, on the bad side...
      There is a poor choice of vegetarian alernatives. There is now a spicy chick pea burger (which i hate to see is absoutly revolting), a simple pasta dish and a butternut squash tart. The tart is the only thing worth ordering really.
      And, although i dont eat meat I have been informed by my other half that the steak is not great quality.
      However, for the price, you get alot of food and a wide range of choices. The mixed grill is a particular winner with my family.
      The desserts are fantastic, they specialise in sundaes, with a standard choices aswell as special depending on the time of year.

      Basically, dont expect the gourmet food, but its cheap and chearful!

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        09.03.2013 01:33

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        What a load of rubbish

        Went into harvester at the riverside retail park Northampton on Thursday. What a lot of rubbish I was dished up. The 8oz rump steak was so tough it took three hands to cut it, one was needed to hold the plate down. Full of sinew and grissle and really quite disgusting. The chips or fries were cooked in oil full of black bits and eyes. The creamy pepper sauce full of mushrooms. The person this was served to has an allergy to mushrooms.
        The other meal was chicken. belly of pork, fries and sweetcorn with sauce. What can I say apart from the belly of pork was nice. The fries as with the steak! The chicken had obviously just been killed as it still had feathers on the drumstick. The waitress was very apologetic and gave us two complimentary latte coffees. My meals cost £19.68p. Left 32p for waitress but I do not know why.
        This was my first visit to a Harvester and my last!

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        03.02.2013 10:38
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        James: "Are we going to the White House for dinner?"

        **Please Note, The Harvester category on Dooyoo covers The Harvester chain in general, I will be reviewing one particular Harvester which I have dined at most often, this is The Harvester in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham. I have had confirmation from Dooyoo that this is the correct category for my review.



        The Harvester, Sutton Coldfield.

        The Harvester in Sutton Coldfield is one of the pubs which I used to visit quite often when I lived at home with my mum. The pub is located on Boldmere Road on the corner of Gate Lane. It is a large white building and because of this my brother, aged 9, renamed it 'The White House' and often makes us smile when he announces that we're going to The White House for dinner!

        As my mum lives within a 5 minute walk of The Harvester we have always walked here, but it can be accessed by public transport with the local bus stopping very close by on Boldmere Road and a number of other Travel West Midlands buses stopping on nearby Jockey Road, I cannot be sure of the bus numbers as they have recently changed them. For those coming by car there is a large car park at both the front and rear of the pub.


        Bar Area
        The entrance to The Harvester is located on the car park at the front of the pub, as there is no pedestrian pathway across the car park you will need to keep any kids close by as we have often experience drivers racing around as if it were a mini-motorway! Once inside The Harvester you will be faced with a brick wall and the option to go left to the restaurant or right to the bar area. I will begin my review with the bar area.

        The bar in the bar area is quite small but still offers a good variety of drinks. There is large seating area which is very well spaced out and offers a variety of seating including the usual chairs and tables and quite a few higher bar stools which have usually been positioned near the gambling machines or the games machine, also known as the magic 50p machine.

        Despite the small size of the bar we've never had to wait for long to be served and quite often there is no queue at all so we have been served the moment we walked up. We have always found the bar staff to be polite as well as fast and efficient with their service. Sometimes they don't seem to be the friendliest of people but for me, as long as they get my drinks order correct then I don't mind how friendly they are as long as there is a please and thank you.

        I have often enjoyed sitting in the bar area for both quiet drinks and catching up with friends as well as drinking with family while we wait for everyone to arrive if we are going for a meal.


        The Restaurant
        The restaurant area is quite large and while there are lots of tables catering for anything from large groups right through to couples I find that the tables are quite close to each other and I have often been able to hear conversations of other groups very clearly without intending to. Personally I don't like this as if I am going for a meal with family I like the thought that our conversation is private rather than being able to be heard by the whole restaurant!

        The lighting in the restaurant is dimmed but not so dark that you cannot see what you are eating and not too bright which I think creates a nice welcoming and warm atmosphere.


        Getting Seated
        As you walk through the main entrance there is a small table to the left of the entrance, this is usually staffed by a waiter or waitress who will ask how many people are in your party and proceed to get you seated. If you need to wait for a table then you will be given an approximate time of how long and then you can wait in the bar area. We have only had to wait once and this was no longer than 10 minutes.

        Once seated we have always found that our waiter or waitress has introduced themselves and given us the menus to browse while they get any drinks we have ordered. At this point we are free to visit the Salad Bar, where you are welcome to help yourself to as much salad as you want to accompany your meal. As I personally don't eat or like salad I tend to give this a miss and just take a couple of fresh bread rolls and some butter. Looking at the salad bar though there always appears to be a large choice of various salad items as well as a pasta option and a few sauces and salad dressings.


        Menu
        The menu at The Harvester is quite big and offers a nice variety of meals as well as starters, puddings and side orders.

        For starters there is a choice of around 6 different items including garlic bread, breaded mushrooms and my personal favourite buffalo chicken wings with BBQ dip.

        The main meals are mainly steak. There is a large choice of different steaks and different sizes. If steak isn't your thing though you can choose from other meals such as chicken and bacon BBQ melt, fish meals and a couple of vegetarian choices.

        After your main meal you will be offered the pudding menu. The pudding menu makes me wish I could have three courses of just puddings. But sadly I cannot so I have to choose between a selection of ice cream sundae options, various cakes or for those who aren't keen on the sweet things you can order fruit skewers.

        If you have children you might like to know there is a children's menu available on request which offers kid sized portions of burgers, chips and chicken dishes to name just a few.


        Prices
        The prices in Harvester are pretty good in my opinion. A glass of coke will set you back around £2.30, however for about 5p more you can have Pepsi with unlimited refills so we tend to go for this instead! Alcohol wise you can expect to pay around the £3 - £5 mark for a glass of wine depending on the size and around the £3 mark for a pint depending on the brand. The prices for the food are also pretty good. The main dishes start at around £6 with the sharing platters being much higher at just under £20! I would say to check the size of these as you may be better off ordering individual meals and paying less. Puddings are mostly just under £4 and the starters vary from around £3 to around £8 if you decide to have a starter for sharing.


        Food Quality
        To describe the food quality I will base this on my pervious visits and what I most commonly order.

        It is quite rare that I have starters as I tend to try and leave room for pudding, but on the odd occasion when I have fancied a starter I usually have the Flame Grilled Chicken Wings. The wings come served on a plate with a small pot of BBQ sauce and a few green leaves laid on the top of the wings. In my experience the wings have always seemed to taste really good although a fraction on the greasy side. The BBQ sauce is quite rich and I usually keep hold of the pot to use the remainder with my main meal.

        For my main meal I tend to choose the half a spit roast chicken topped with a sweet and sour style sauce, although the name of the sauce escapes me I know it is something to do with Ginger in the name. The chicken comes served with chips and a corn on the cob. The chicken part of the meal is quite a decent size and although they are quite generous with the sauce I find that once I have removed the skin of the chicken a lot of the sauce is wasted. I also think that due to the skin being left on the sauce doesn't flavour the chicken as well as it would if it was given the chance to sink in. In general I do really enjoy this dish which is why I have it again and again. There has been the odd occasion where I have found the chicken to be too dry and this is where the unlimited refills of Pepsi have come in handy! The chips are usually cooked nice, they have nice fluffy inners and are not greasy.

        Now for the best part... the pudding! Every time we visit the Harvester my brother and I have to have the Honeycomb Explosion pudding. It is simply divine! Served in a Sundae glass the Honeycomb Explosion is a mix of ice cream with toffee sauce, chocolate sauce and lots of small pieces of honeycomb topped off with a nice helping of whipped cream and a wafer. I love this pudding simply because it is so sweet! I find it to be very sickly and the mix of the toffee and chocolate sauce is perfect, I would love to say I could eat two of them because they are so nice, but unfortunately the sweetness of them prevents even me from doing this!


        Toilets
        The toilets in The Harvester are alright as far as toilets go, they have always been stocked with toilet paper and soap and I have never had any issues with cleanliness although they are often a little untidy looking with over flowing bins.


        Car Parking
        There is a large car park at the front of the Harvester with a slightly smaller overspill car park located on Gate Lane at the rear of the pub. The car park is pay and display but if you take the counterpart to your ticket into the pub with you they will discount the charge from your bill. The car park is shared with the Travel Lodge hotel next door which is why it has been made into a pay and display.


        Overall
        Overall I would recommend The Harvester in Sutton Coldfield. The food quality and service you receive are both of a high standard. I have always enjoyed our meals here, especially the pudding! The atmosphere is nice and relaxed and at the same time quite welcoming. An enjoyable experience for both dining with the family and relaxed drinks with friends.

        Thanks for reading :)

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        25.01.2013 23:02
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        Not one of Harvester's best restaurants.

        Review of the Harvester Pub and Grill, Bybrook Barn, Ashford, Kent.

        Harvester Restaurants are a nationwide chain of family friendly restaurants. Many years ago, Harvester introduced their free, self-service salad bars which were a new idea at the time and this concept continues in their restaurants today. Harvesters are licensed restaurants and their bars can be used by non-diners too.

        I was taken for lunch at the Ashford Kent branch recently by my niece Karen and her partner, Caroline. Both girls have been suffering from health problems lately and I have been acting as their driver, taking them to their various hospital appointments. The lunch was their way of giving me a treat as a thank you. An unnecessary, but much appreciated gesture.

        **Location**

        The Ashford Bybrooke Barn Harvester is conveniently located on the outskirts of Ashford, Kent.
        The Harvester is on the A28 Canterbury Road, next door to the popular Bybrooke Barn Garden Centre and Shopping village.

        **The Restaurant**

        We arrived at the Harvester at around 12:30. The car park was moderately busy and we had no problem finding a space close to the entrance, which was important to us. I should mention that Caroline walks with the aid of crutches due to severe hypermobility and MS, whilst Karen who is suffering from a serious eye condition at the moment, wears dark glasses and uses a white cane due to her visual impairments.

        We entered the restaurant, passing through the comfortable looking bar area and waited at the check in reception point. We were attended to promptly by a rather morose looking young lady, we requested a table for 3 and as the young woman spoke to us, it was obvious that she had a mouthful of food!

        The receptionist led us towards the back of the restaurant which was fine, but she then led us up a flight of 5 steep steps. I tried to object, given my companions obvious mobility issues, but Caroline, who hates having attention drawn to her mobility issues, stopped me and said it was fine.
        We were shown to our table, neatly laid for a party of 4. It was adequate but there was not enough room for Caroline to get in as the table was rather close to the wall. We managed by dint of shoving the table over a little!

        The décor in this part of the restaurant was very attractive, pale muted coloured walls and dark oak furniture gave a pleasing ambiance to the dining room. There was a display of rustic styled prints on the walls, metal vintage advertising signs mixed with sepia photographs of this area of Kent. The styles blended well and gave an eclectic feel to the décor, which I felt worked very well. Lighting was good and our table was in a pleasant enough position.

        I used the ladies loos during our visit and found them to be clean and well stocked with tissue, soaps and hand dryers. Obviously as there were no men in our party, I cannot pass comment on the male facilities!


        **Menu, Ordering and the Food**

        We had been given our menus at the point of checking in and as we sat studying these a waitress came to take our drinks orders. The girls ordered soft drinks and I had coffee. Our drinks came in record time and we continued studying the menu, we decided to skip starters and go for a main course each.

        At first glance a Harvester menu looks pretty impressive, bright and colourful, well laid out with plenty of pictures of the dishes on offer. On further examination of the menu however; I was definitely less than impressed! I am vegetarian, which I appreciate limits my choices in a grill style restaurant, but on the last time I visited a Harvester, there was a reasonable selection for non-meat eaters. Not so on this occasion. The only 'mains' for vegetarians were veggie burgers, Grilled Halloumi, a Butternut Squash, Mushroom, Goats Cheese and Brie roast and two pasta dishes. I admit to being a rather fussy eater, I don't care for burgers or Halloumi and I don't eat mushrooms, so my choice was reduced drastically to the two pastas.

        When she arrived to take our orders, I asked our waitress if it was possible to have the Four Cheese Pasta without the spinach in the sauce, but she said that it was not. So my choice was now down to one dish, 'Simply Pasta', a dish consisting of to quote the menu, 'tortigilioni in a lightly spiced chipotle cherry tomato sauce'. The menu advised that my dish came with a green vegetable and garlic bread.

        The waitress did point out that if I didn't want any of the mains I could have a Jacket Potato, which was kind of her, but this isn't really a main meal in my opinion, so 'Simply Pasta', it had to be.

        My niece ordered an Original Combo Grill consisting of a ¼ spit roasted chicken, a baby rack of ribs, corn on the cob and fries, whilst Caroline opted for a 7oz Gammon Steak Grill.

        Meals ordered, we headed for the salad bar, at least, Caroline and I did as Karen didn't feel she could negotiate the steps. Being on crutches Caroline couldn't manage to hold her plate, so she pointed out what she wanted and I served her salad and then carried it back to our table for her before selecting my own and Karen's salads.

        There was a plentiful array of choice, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, beetroot, potato salad, peppers, onions, sweet corn and pasta salads to name but a few. The dressings were varied and there were also items such as croutons on offer. Bread rolls and butter or low fat spread were available and these were all very nicely presented. There was nothing wrong with the salad bar, but it didn't really inspire me, it was nice and fresh, but frankly rather run of the mill.
        To be honest, the Harvester salad bar has changed very little since my visits of 20 odd years ago!

        We had almost finished our salads when the main courses arrived. My pasta was served in a large deep dish, rather like an old fashioned soup bowl. The small serving of pasta was floating in a sauce and there were strands of green leaves cast across the surface. A slice of bread sat on one side. To say it looked unappetizing is an understatement!

        My meat eating companions fared much better, Caroline's meal was beautifully presented, the gammon looked nicely cooked and she had a good sized portion of fries. Karen's meal looked very good too although if her chicken was a ¼ of a bird, then it must have been a tiny chicken!

        As I started my meal I realised that it was cold, the plate was warm but the actual food was stone cold! I apologised to my niece and said I was going to have to send it back. I tried to catch the waitresses' eye discretely but she ignored me. Eventually Caroline called her over and we explained that the pasta dish was cold. There was no apology; she just asked 'Is it?' before removing my plate! A few minutes later a fresh 'Simply Pasta' meal was delivered to our table. It looked no better than the previous one but at least it was hot. The meal was frankly appalling. The pasta was overcooked and soggy; the sauce was watery and bland. It tasted like watered down tinned chopped tomatoes. The green stuff was, I think, meant to be rocket, but to be honest I'm really not sure what it was and as for the garlic bread, I think the garlic may have been overlooked! In fact the garlic bread consisted of half a slice of bread from a cut loaf, the crust slice at that!
        My meal was dreadful, my niece said her chicken was dry and overdone, but in all fairness, Caroline's meal was fine.

        **Conclusion**

        I felt rather sorry for the girls as the meal was intended to be a treat and they were disappointed, especially as they have dined there many times before and been very satisfied.
        We decided to forego a dessert and asked for our bill which came to a few pence short of £30. I was less than impressed at both the food and the attitude of the staff although the restaurant itself was pleasant enough.

        I fully accept that my vegetarian diet and the fact that there are certain things I do not eat limited my choice, but I feel that the overall standards of this Harvester branch were pretty poor.
        We did not expect 5* dining from the restaurant, but we all felt our experience was far from satisfactory and in light of this, I cannot in all honesty recommend this particular branch of the Harvester chain.

        Thank you for reading

        ©brittle1906 January 2013.
        N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name

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          09.01.2013 12:45
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          I probably will not go there again, sadly

          The Windmill at Littlehampton is quite a new Harvester Restaurant, I would say maybe two or three years old. It is directly on the seafront, beside the arcades.

          ~~~ Parking facilities ~~~
          This restaurant does not have any private parking spaces, it is on the sea front and the car park is a public one, which is a shame, as it means that you have to pay to park there, 7 days a week.

          There are disabled parking spaces, although I do not know what concession Arun District Council makes for cars with a disabled badge displayed in them.

          I find that this is an irritation, as you cannot tell from the amount of cars in the car park as to how busy the restaurant is, obviously people using the arcades and the beach will also be using the car park. I put £1.20 in for two hours, but obviously was not sure how long I would be in the restaurant, possibly one hour would suffice.


          ~~~~ The actual Restaurant - the pro's ~~~
          I am a big fan of Harvester Restaurants, as a rule they provide very good value for money, very filling and generally the food is of a good quality, you know what to expect, the same menu is provided in all the restaurants up and down the country, therefore you should be able to order the same dish and expect the same meal. For some reason, depending which restaurant you go to, the price can be different, which I think is a shame..

          I like the fact that if you order a cold drink, Coca-Cola, Fanta etc.. then you get a refillable glass, one glass is usually enough for me, but most people I know prefer a couple glasses and Coke is not cheap, so this is a good idea, and great that you can help yourself rather than wait for the waiting staff to come and serve you.

          Who doesn't like the salad bar? It is great and comes as standard with all main meals, pasta's, cole slaws, lettuce, tom, cucumber, onions, all the various sauces and mayo's that you would expect (my particular favourite being the blue cheese sauce, a creamy mayo sauce which is so tasty)

          My personal meal of choice is the Fish and Chips, which is around the £6 mark, restaurant depending.

          ~~~~~~ The cons' ~~~~~~
          I don't know if it is a short staffing issue, or if it is bad management but we have been to the restaurant twice in the last 6 months and both times have been disappointed. We do have another Harvester nearby and I think I will go to that one next time I go out for a meal.

          As a family of four we went to The Windmill a couple months ago, we ordered our meals - one veggie option, two fish and chips and one gammon dish. We waited for over 40 minutes for our meal to come, you could see the waitress was rushed off her feet, there only seemed to be one waitress working in our area of seating and that really wasn't enough.

          When our meal came, only one of them was fresh - obviously the other meals had been sat around waiting for the final one to be ready. It wasn't good enough and we politely told the waitress so, she was highly apologetic and we knew it was not her fault.

          The manager arranged a refund for us, his explanation for the error was that the kitchen was very busy and that they rota had not been taken into account - they did not realise that it was the first day of the school half term..

          In conclusion, a very nice restaurant, in a very pleasant setting, but not always satisfactory

          This review is also posted elsewhere, by myself, same username

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            20.07.2012 13:46

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            Could be better

            Yesterday I ate at the Harvester pub and Grill in Rochdale (The Sir Winston Churchill). It was the first time I'd eaten in a Harvester restaurant. I went there with my mum who uses a wheelchair and found the place to be nice and accessible - a ramp at the front door and the tables not too cramped together so it was easy to get around.

            We started with the free salad bar which was pretty good. Everything seemed fresh and quite a lot of choice. The only fault I would find with it was that the potatoes in the potato salad were severely undercooked.

            The menu is one of those ridiculously large ones. rather than turning over pages, all the menu is on one big cardboard menu. The menu is a little confusing and took some figuring out as to what goes on. Basically, you order your meat, a sauce to go with it and then an accompaniment. There are some fully formed meals where you don't need to do it this way - they've chosen for you.
            I had half a chicken (automatically served with peas), Piri Piri Sauce and Chips. I would describe my meal as about average. The chips weren't the best - not really fries and not really chips but they were edible. The chicken was a bit dry and not as big as I expected. The sauce came separate. I've had better Piri piri sauce. My mum had salmon which she said was very nice and it was certainly a large piece.
            The staff were very friendly and helpful and asked a number of times if everything was alright with our meal.

            I wasn't thrilled by Harvester but I would maybe try again with a different meal.

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            21.04.2012 12:53

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            I recently attempted to book a table at the harvester and the staff were very rude when informing me they would not hold a table for more than 8. There are 10 in my family 3 of which are small children under 5. The man on the phone would not accomodate us and went on to say that if we did all turn up we would have to b put on a waiting list. I'm sure anyone with small hungry children would understand this would not be a pleasant experience! I explained this too him and was told that's the way it is. Thanks for that harvester, we won't be visiting any time soon and as the lady above stated contact to complain to!

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            30.01.2012 18:28
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            A lovely restaurant chain

            On a recent weekend where my boyfriend came to visit, we decided to go out for dinner on a Saturday night to Harvester in Nottingham city centre. We didn't quite anticipate how busy it would be though at 8pm. As we came up to the restaurant, we could immediately see people waiting for tables. After finding out that there was only a 20 minute wait, we decided to stick around and we only ended up waiting a little more than 10 minutes.

            A waitress led us to a 4 person table near the back of the restaurant, a little silly I thought considering there was only 2 of us and we didn't need a table that big. While we had been waiting to be seated, we had both had time to look over the menu and decide what we wanted so our waitress took our order straight away. I ordered a 12oz gammon steak while my boyfriend had a mixed grill.

            After a couple of minutes our drinks were brought over and considering how busy it was, I thought that this was really good. As the restaurant was so busy, I was expecting it to be quite loud and distracting but the tables are spaced out enough so that there is a little background noise but we were still able to have a private conversation. Due to us having a 4 seat table, we were able to sit next to each other rather than opposite which was nice for us both.

            Our meals arrived after only 20 minutes and they looked amazing. If you don't know already, meals from Harvester come with unlimited salad bowls but we chose not to eat this as we knew how big our proper meals would be. The salad bar is amazing but eating this would have made me full far too quickly.

            We both chose to have fries with our meals and although they weren't extremely hot, they were still really nice. Each meal also comes with a choice of sauce but I never have one so my boyfriend got to have his Jack Daniels sauce along with an extra choice of Peppercorn sauce which he said were both lovely. My gammon was thick and cooked to perfection although I secretly wanted my boyfriend's mixed grill instead. His steak, sausage, chicken and gammon looked so good compared with my meal so I think next time I'll have that too!!

            Including drinks (a large red wine and a vodka and coke) our meal came to just over £30 which was really good value for what we had. The service was fantastic even though it was super busy and a Saturday night and because of this, I would happily go any night of the week now.

            The Harvester in the city centre can be found just off Mansfield Road near the Victoria Centre/ near the CornerHouse.

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              02.01.2012 20:23
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              A fairly average pub food experience, mainly intended for carnivores

              We went to our local Harvester Grill (Wallasey) for my fiance's birthday over the Christmas period. It's not the best time to have a birthday, with everyone being tired of feeling bloated from over-indulging over Christmas, so we decided we'd just go for a pub tea, nothing too heavy, and we invited his parents and brother.

              **Location**

              The main appeal of this pub is the location, as it's only down the road meaning it doesn't cost much to get a taxi, or it's only five minutes in the car if someone's driving. The location is a little off the beaten track, so you probably wouldn't stumble across it unless you knew it was there. Having said that, it's always busy when we go and sometimes you have to wait for a table.

              **The Restaurant**

              The restaurant area is very traditional and cosy, featuring log fireplaces, wooden floors, leather seats in the waiting area and some of the tables are private booths offering a bit of privacy. The establishment has a lovely warm welcoming feel to it, especially over the Christmas period when it has tastefully decorated fireplaces and trees. We had to wait in the waiting area for what they said would be 40 minutes but didn't feel anywhere near that long, and we enjoyed a pleasant drink in the bar area whilst we were waiting.

              **The Food**

              Although there are some vegetarian options on the menu, I would definitely say that Harvester Grills are more suitable for carnivores. They offer starters such as chicken wings, breaded mushrooms, nachos and loaded potato skins. The mains menu follows a pattern whereby you pick your main, choose a sauce, and then choose a side. You also get unlimited access to the salad bar which offers things like potato salad, coleslaw, beetroot, sweetcorn, and so on. There are usually bread rolls on the salad bar but on this occasion they'd run out and didn't restock them during the evening.

              The mains on offer range from fillet steaks (the main attraction), salmon and sea bass, burgers, a mixed grill, rib eye steak and chicken. The sauces were things like Diane sauce, herb butter, BBQ sauce, Jack Daniels dipping sauce, amongst others. There are suggestions on the menu as to what sauce will go well with chicken, fish or steak. The sides were mainly potato based from what I can remember. They offered jacket potatoes, seasoned fries, new potatoes or mash.

              For our starters, I ordered the potato skins and the rest of the group had BBQ chicken wings or breaded mushrooms. The overall verdict was that the starters were "ok", nothing special but they filled a gap. The potato skins I had contained a reasonable amount of filling, but looked a bit dried out like they'd been being kept warm in the kitchen for a while, and there were only two of them. Everyone else's starters came in a nicely presented basket, the mushrooms were ok apparently, and the chicken wings very nice.

              I'm not a huge fan of steak to be honest so I opted for the salmon for my main. I had the herb butter sauce and a jacket potato with it, and it came with green beans so I thought it was slightly healthier after stuffing my face with Christmas food for days on end! The rest of the group had the steak with various sauces (the Jack Daniels dipping sauce being my favourite and was the one my fiance ordered), and everyone had fries.

              My salmon was lovely, it had a nice chargrilled crispy top and just flaked away. The jacket potato was well cooked, and I only used a bit of the herb butter sauce as I felt it would have drowned the meal otherwise. Everyone else seemed quite happy apart from my fiance's mum whose steak came out burnt to a crisp. When they took the order they asked how everyone would like their steak cooked, and she said well done. There's a difference between well done and burnt, however! The response of the waitress when she said it looked a little burnt was "Well have you cut into it, it might be all right inside" which was a TERRIBLE attitude for a waitress and immediately got everyone's backs up. We sent the steak back, and waited whilst they brought another one out. As they were carrying it back to the kitchen I was at the salad bar and heard the waitress say to her colleague "That's another steak going back", which makes me think the chef was having an off day rather than we were being fussy. Eventually a replacement arrived and luckily we'd all been eating slowly so she didn't feel like she was being watched eating her meal. Everyone seemed happy in the end and the plates were cleared.

              They offered us dessert, but apart from being stuffed at this point, we wanted to get out of there and away from the rude waitress so we declined. I saw some desserts being brought out though and most of them were either ice-cream sundaes or fudge cake type things.

              One thing I did notice is that there wasn't a great deal of choice for vegetarians, although the menu choice is very extensive so there are a few things dotted here and there such as the sweet potato and chickpea burger which is the only thing I can remember being suitable for vegetarians.

              The other thing I noticed about the menu which has changed since I was last here, was the fact they tell you how many calories are in each meal on the menu. I'm not sure if this is a good thing, or if it just spoils your enjoyment of the meal, but I guess it's useful for dieters who are trying to stick to certain calories or maybe if you're having three courses you could pick a healthier main or something. Personally, if I'm out I'm out and I've no time for worrying about this kind of thing when I'm enjoying myself.

              **Price**

              At the end of the meal my fiance's parents very generously insisted on picking up the bill in that way parents do, and for five of us to have two courses it was around £70. That's not bad considering you get free access to the salad bar, although that doesn't include drinks because we'd ordered them separately at the bar. Most mains were between £8 - £10, and the starters around £5 each.

              **Service**

              As mentioned before, the waitress was rather rude to my mother-in-law, and the staff generally seemed quite stressed and frantic on this busy night. We also waited quite a while for our food, which we didn't really mind because it made the night last longer, but if you were hungry or in a hurry I wouldn't recommend coming here.

              **Toilets**

              One thing I found very strange about this restaurant was the ladies toilets. The cubicles inside were so tight to fit into it was ridiculous! I'm a size 12 which is probably around average in this country, and I actually had to straddle the toilet seat to fit in the cubicle in order to shut the door. Sitting on the toilet meant your knees were almost touching the door, it was THAT tight a fit. Anyone overweight or not wishing to spend their evening straddling toilet seats might not be comfortable in these toilets. Other than that they were clean and tidy, and had those toilet roll holders where the toilet roll comes out both sides so they're constantly being replaced before running out. I did notice there was a disabled toilet, but didn't look inside. I can only presume this had ample room compared to the ladies toilet. On this note, the entrance has ramps which makes it easier for wheelchairs to gain access, and there was a decent amount of room inside the restaurant to get about for anyone with mobility issues.

              **Overall**

              Despite the niggly issues we experienced, we still had a good night and a good meal for a very reasonable price. I enjoy the atmosphere in this restaurant, and the location is ideal for us if we just want a pub tea and don't fancy going too far. For this reason, I'm sure we'll be back again, and if anyone is in the area I'd recommend it for a pub meal, but I wouldn't recommend anyone going out of their way to seek it out.

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              17.12.2011 21:42
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              A good local eatery

              In more recent years when it has come to celebrating birthdays and having a pre-Christmas festive feed-up, my friend and I have temporarily, and for various reasons, abandoned our usual Indian restaurant blowouts. Instead, we've been visiting our local Harvester which is a very short drive from where I live....approximately 4 minutes in a car and about a 20 minute walk.

              We've used this branch of Harvester quite a few times a year since about 2007 and mostly have been pleased with the overall results. Our last visit was on the evening of Tuesday, 13th December 2011, and we arrived at the restaurant at approximately 7:15pm.

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              PARKING

              Firstly, if anybody should be visiting Harvester at Rayleigh Weir for the first time and isn't familiar with the area, the entrance to the car park can easily be missed....it is just a hundred or so yards on the left, just to the side of the adjoining Premier Hotel. Once inside the car park and regardless of what day and time you choose to visit Rayleigh Harvester, it usually is pretty full and on a couple of occasions we have had to wait a few minutes for a parking space. I believe this is caused by Harvester and the Premier sharing the same car park. Although there are limited parking spaces, a section of about ten are reserved for disabled people.

              INSIDE THE RESTAURANT/AMBIENCE

              The outer appearance of Harvester is quite pleasant, with a few tables and chairs dotted around in a well-tended garden. The building façade is country pub style and the entrance door is small, although you can't miss it as there are usually a few people standing around outside smoking - of course Harvester has a no-smoking inside the restaurant policy.

              There is no need to book a table, but on evenings when the restaurant is crowded, you may have to wait up to 30 minutes to be seated. The staff recommend that you wait in the bar area which is furnished quite nicely with a combination of tables, low wall seats and wooden cushioned chairs. If you decide to have a drink whilst waiting for your table, the bar is fairly well-stocked, although sometimes on a busy night, it can take a while to get served. The bar staff are mostly quite young, smartly dressed and very pleasant.

              The restaurant area is very pleasantly decorated in subtle shades of pale brown and cream, and the walls are dotted with paintings and framed photographs of historic Southend-on-Sea and Rayleigh scenes. The lighting is warm and a little subdued, but not to the point where it's too dark to read the menu. The tables are made of heavy light wood, and the seating is the same as that in the bar. On each table is a selection of menus; main fayre, all-day breakfast, takeaway menu, children's menu, desserts and drinks menus....and on this occasion, a Christmas menu. There are one or two vegetarian items on the main menu, such as pasta in a herby tomato sauce, but I'd personally say Harvester is more suited to carnivores unless any vegetarian person is happy to largely make their meal from salad bar items. Interestingly, quite a few of the items on the food menus give nutritional information such as calorie, fat and fibre content. The aisles between the tables are reasonably spacious, yet I would guess anybody in a wheelchair or using crutches may find it a little difficult to negotiate their way to the salad bar or toilets, as both can be quite a distance from your table, depending upon where in the restaurant you are sitting. It isn't always possible to pick and choose as to where you sit, due to the restaurant being popular and often very crowded....you really have to expect to sit where you are put.

              If you are lucky enough to pick a rare evening when the restaurant isn't too crowded, the atmosphere is very pleasant.....relaxing, homely and with quiet background music which usually consists of chart oldies from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Close to Christmas, the music will be peppered with festive songs. However, if you are unlucky enough to visit on a very busy evening, it can be quite noisy to the point of discomfort, especially when there are a lot of not very well-behaved children present. Rayleigh Harvester describes itself as 'child friendly', but there is an absence of notices requesting that parents keep their children under reasonable control. Consequently, I have seen less well disciplined children running riot through the restaurant and bar areas, which makes things very difficult for the waiting staff and decidedly uncomfortable for other diners. I have visited Rayleigh Harvester on evenings where well-behaved children are present, and that has never been a problem.

              MENU AND EATING EXPERIENCE

              All of Harvester's menus are standard from branch to branch, nationwide, and can be viewed in .pdf format from their website. The starters include items such as Fresh Melon, Breaded Mushrooms, BBQ ribs etc. The main menu largely consists of grills and combos, seafood dishes such as scampi, meat dishes mainly consisting of steaks, burgers, ribs, lamb, gammon and a mixed grill. There is an option to mix and match various items, such as creating a 'surf'n'turf' platter. Various extras are available such as onion rings, garlic bread, corn on the cob, dough balls and similar, together with different sauces and dips. You can help yourself to unlimited amounts of salad and fresh baked rolls with butter or Flora from the salad bar - this salad bar is very popular, and the items available can vary greatly from day to day. Mostly it is a selection of chilled metal deep trays containing things like lettuce, grated carrot, diced beetroot, cucumber, sweetcorn and various dressed cold/raw vegetable mixes.

              On this particular visit, my friend chose to forego a starter, helping herself to a large bowl of mixed items from the salad bar with a roll and butter. For my starter, I had tomato and basil soup with a roll and butter. My friend's salad looked delicious....fresh, crisp and tasty. She is a very picky/fussy eater - that's putting it mildly - yet she ate the lot, declaring everything in her salad to have been first class. I really enjoyed my soup. Although I doubt if it actually was, it tasted home-made - zingy, chunky, rich tomato soup flavoured delicately and decorated with fresh chopped basil. Our rolls were very good too - crispy on the outside, spongy on the inside, and still warm from the oven.

              Very impressed with our starters, we sat and waited a little longer than we'd have liked for our main course. The restaurant wasn't too crowded and there didn't appear to be any children present, but a couple of long tables were full with parties of people presumably enjoying their workplace's Christmas outing. That could account for the service being a little slower than we usually experience at Rayleigh Weir Harvester. However, our very young waitress was delightfully pleasant and chatty, without being overbearing or vacuous. She efficiently took our orders (for starters and main course).

              Our main course eventually arrived and it looked delicious on the plate. My friend had ordered a sirloin steak in a barbecue sauce with mashed potato, peas and tomato and I had ordered a plain rump steak with chips (fries), peas and tomato. We also had side orders of onion rings and garlic bread, which we shared. We were quite impressed that the waitress had asked us how we'd like our steaks cooked, as both of us have in recent years experienced various local restaurants where we haven't been asked and it's been a case of you get it how you're given.

              My friend declared the mashed potato - which looked as if it had been mixed with onions, formed into a patty shape and baked or fried - was delicious, as were the peas and tomato, but she had a problem with her steak. She said the sauce tasted very piquant and nice, but it seems they'd given her the rump steak and me the sirloin steak. We couldn't swap over, as the rump steak she'd been given was already covered with the barbecue sauce which for reasons that aren't important to this review, I was unable to eat. My friend declared her mistakenly issued rump steak to be very tough, and I could see she was having problems getting her knife through it. She battled away with the steak for a while - declaring it to taste fine but to be inedibly tough - she managed to eat about half of it, then left the rest. My own sirloin steak (which should have been rump, as that was what I ordered) was the opposite. It was a generously sized piece of meat....cooked to perfection, with a lovely hint of chargrilled flavour on the outside. The inside was tender and medium rare, exactly as I like it. I was sorry that my friend was given my ordered piece of rump steak instead of the sirloin which I ended up with that should have been hers, but other than to ask the waitress to rectify the mistake - which my friend preferred to pass on - there was nothing we could do about it.

              The accompaniments to my meal were good. The chips, although frozen, tasted freshly cooked and the peas were nice and firm. The tomato was ripe, sweet and not overcooked. As for our side orders, they too were delicious. The garlic bread was ciabatta, generously steeped in rich garlic butter, and the onion rings were beautifully crisp, deep fried in a beer batter.

              All of the portion sizes were reasonably generous....not enormous, but ample for our appetites and certainly worth the money. Aside from the steak mix-up (which was the fault of the kitchen I believe, not the waitress), the only thing we'd have preferred was that the whole meal, together with accompaniments, could have been a bit hotter. It wasn't stone cold, but wasn't scorching, piping hot either. We concluded that it had been left standing on a counter for longer than it should have been before being brought to our table. Perhaps they should invest in a heated counter at the point where the chefs line up the meals ready for the waiting staff to deliver to the customers? On the other hand though, maybe the health & safety brigade might have a few words to say about that.

              Overall, and aside from the not so hot food and the steak switch error, we were very pleased with our meals. Everything was well-cooked, well-presented and tasty, especially my sirloin steak and the onion rings.

              Soon after we finished eating the main part of our meal, our lovely little waitress asked if we wanted dessert. My friend ordered Banoffee Pie Sundae, and I went for what is a relatively new addition to Harvester's dessert menu, but I've had it a couple of times before and it was love at both first sight and first taste....Cadbury Ultimate Sundae, which comes in a tall glass dish and is a heavenly mixture of layers of vanilla ice cream, Cadbury's Chocolate Sauce and Caramel Cups, chunks of both Wispa and Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate, covered in mounds and mounds of squirty cream then topped with a small Cadbury's Chocolate Flake. The Banoffee Pie Sundae also comes in a tall serving dish and is made of layers of banana studded crumbly biscuit, vanilla ice cream, runny toffee sauce, a white chocolate sauce then topped with an almost obscene yet welcome and delicious serving of squirty cream.

              The ice cream used in these desserts isn't of say Ben & Jerry's or Haagen Dazs standard, but nonetheless is still of good quality....firm, creamy and not too sweet. The cream is very airy and does tend to lose its shape quickly, but that's to be expected of the squirty variety. My friend declared the individual elements of her dessert to be delicious, and as usual, the whole of my own Cadbury Ultimate Sundae dessert was exquisite.

              To round off, my friend ordered a black decaffeinated coffee and I had a cappuccino - both were served in quite deep, thick china cups, and were piping hot and delicious. The coffee used appeared to be of high quality and the portion of chocolate powder sprinkled onto my cappuccino was reasonably generous.

              All in all and despite the mistakes, we really enjoyed our food at Rayleigh Weir Harvester. I would even go as far as to say my own meal was truly faultless, but it not being as hot as it should have been prevents me from awarding my personal golden pig-out badge on this particular occasion.

              DRINKS

              All alcoholic drinks, apart from wine taken with a meal, are ordered from the bar and are only a tiny bit more expensive than pub prices.

              As far as soft drinks are concerned, there is a dispensing machine in the middle of the restaurant. One of the bar staff or your waitress will give you a tall glass, and you help yourself to whatever you want at the dispensing machine. Beside the machine is a large ice bucket which is frequently replenished, and the drinks available are Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi and R Whites Lemonade. You choose what you wish, and just pay for the first drink....you can then top up, self-service, as much as you like for no extra cost. Also, you can mix and match. If for instance you choose Pepsi as your first drink, you can go for the lemonade as your second, and if wished, swap back and forth between varieties of fizzy drink throughout your stay in the restaurant.

              My friend had a small glass of white wine which she said was of good quality, and because she was driving, she made that last right through until the post-meal coffee. I plumped for a Pepsi Max without ice, and although it was quite pleasant and refreshing, I could tell that it had been slightly watered down. For my second drink I chose the R Whites Lemonade, and that hadn't (as far as I could tell) been watered down, so I stuck with that for the remainder of the evening.

              SERVICE

              My friend and I have, as said above, visited this particular branch of Harvester on several occasions, and have always found the service to be first class. The staff members are always pleasant, polite and chatty, without being intrusive. The waitresses may be a little slow bringing your meal on busy nights, but they are always smart, attentive, thoroughly pleasant and delightfully courteous. Our experience on this occasion was the same as always....faultless! I really do think a few other restaurants in the vicinity could perhaps take a leaf out of Rayleigh Weir Harvester's book when it comes to training their staff on how to relate to the public.

              TOILETS

              If you are sitting at the other end of the large restaurant area, the toilets are quite a trek away, which can be difficult for those who have mobility problems. However, the toilets are spacious and spotlessly clean. There is plenty of toilet paper available and the wash basins are well stocked with liquid soap, plus there are a few warm air hand driers to use, or if you prefer, a plentiful stock of paper towels. The floors are tiled, non-slip (as far as can be determined on one visit) and sparkling clean. I didn't notice any baby changing facilities though, which I found a little odd, as Harvester claims to be - and it largely is - child-friendly.

              PRICES

              For the quality of food, overall eating experience and including things such as waitress service, Rayleigh Harvester is very reasonable. On this occasion, our bill totalled £45.17 which sounds quite high for just two people, but we did eat rather a lot....well, I did!! Both my friend and I agreed that if we'd have visited a small bistro type restaurant in either Rayleigh or Southend-on-Sea and ordered exactly the same items, the bill probably would have far overshot the £50 mark.

              LOCATION: Rayleigh Weir Harvester is along the A127 at Rayleigh Weir Roundabout, Rayleigh, Essex (approx. 3 miles west of Southend-on-Sea). If you are travelling to this Harvester branch from an easterly direction, you will have to traverse the large Weir roundabout and negotiate more of the quite complex traffic lights system.

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              CONCLUSION: In summary, I probably enjoyed our latest trip to Rayleigh Weir Harvester more than my friend, as they didn't get my meal wrong. The mistake with my friend's steak and the issue of the food not being as hot as it should have been was a slight fly in the ointment, but wasn't serious enough to put us off visiting in future. For the most part (and this summary includes my thoughts on other occasions I've visited this restaurant), the food is of very high quality and delicious. The waiting and bar staff are well-mannered, efficient, pleasant and friendly, and the hygiene standards (including the toilets) appear to be high. The restaurant and bar areas are welcoming, well-decorated, comfortable and inviting. The only problem I do have - and this only occurs now and again - is that sometimes, due to young children being welcome, if they are badly behaved it can seriously interfere with my enjoyment of the meal and the evening. Not all children who visit Rayleigh Weir Harvester are monsters, but through no fault of their own, some are and their parents seem unable to teach them how to behave appropriately in a restaurant environment. I realise that if I don't want to encounter badly-behaved children then I should go to a more adult-orientated establishment, but I like to visit Rayleigh Weir Harvester for all its other attributes and as said, not all of the child diners behave badly...it's a case of the minority making the majority look bad, and I don't personally think it's a mortal sin to expect good behaviour from anybody, regardless of their age...obviously the responsibility for young children's demeanour depends on how their parents deal with any misbehaviour.

              I have been told and do appreciate that quality of food and service varies greatly up and down the country and from branch to branch in Harvester restaurants, but I for the most part give the Rayleigh Weir branch the thumbs up!

              Over and out!

              Thanks for reading!

              ~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~

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                24.09.2011 08:30
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                Good food, reasonable prices. Family Friendly. Would recommend.

                We have eaten at our local Harvester Pub & Grill that is situated in Stanway, Colchester many times and have found it to be a really good place to go if you want good food at a reasonable price.

                There is always good car-parking and the service is excellent. You are greeted as you go in and shown to a table fairly quickly, though when we ate at a Harvester when we were visiting St Albans, we had to wait for ages for a table, as we hadn't booked....but to be fair, it WAS Mother's Day, so very busy. All are family friendly too, so children of all ages are all welcomed.

                Anyway, onto to the food....

                The menu is pretty comprehensive and easy to see what they have on offer. They even put the calorie count by each item now, so weightwatchers can see exactly what they are getting! I think that's a great idea (though if I am out, I forget all about dieting!) and will suit the healthy eaters. They have eight menus to choose from: Salad and Grill, Young Guests Menu, Earlybird Menu, Breakfast Menu, Salad Cart, Takeaway Menu, Super Sundae Menu, and a special Christmas menu, all of which give you a huge choice of food. Most of the main dishes are grills of some kind, with steak, chicken, lamb and fish on the menu. They are all cooked to your taste and served with either chips, jacket potatoes or boiled potatoes and various vegetables. If there is anything on the list of the dish that you don't like, they will substitute something else if you ask. For example, my hubby doesn't eat egg, so they gave him an extra sausage instead.

                Usually we go for the Earlybird menu, which has dishes to suit most tastes, (I particularly like the Barbeque Chicken and Bacon Stack. Really tasty!) plus a salad from the lovely bar that has a huge selection of fresh salads to choose from, with dressings and bread rolls and butter. Vegetarians need not feel left out, as they have a lovely selection of meat-free meals too.

                For people with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu is fabulous, and I can thoughly recommend the Honeycomb Explosion Sundae! Mind you.....don't eat too big a main course or you won't have room left for dessert!

                We always find the staff to be friendly and helpful. They are able to tell us about what is on the menu and since we have people in our family with food allergies, this is very important. If you tell the waiter that you have a food allergy they will bring a list of everything on the menu that tells you whether it contains things like egg, nuts, gluten etc. My daughter has a nut allergy and this has enabled her to eat out at the Harvester with confidence.

                It's great being able to see the chefs at work too. They really DO work their socks off and it must be exhausting work! The aromas from the kitchens are amazing and every Harvester we have visted look to be kept spotlessly clean in the kitchens.

                The price of the food there varies from menu to menu, so to give an example of what a meal might cost for an individual isn't easy. All I will say, we ate at one Harvester in Surrey not so long back, and for 5 people a meal that consisted of 5 mains from the Earlybird menu, plus desserts for 4 of us, with drinks came to about £52. I thought that was very reasonable!

                Facilities at every Harvester we have eaten at have all been really good. Loos are clean and easily accessible and they have baby-changing facilities.

                In all, I would recommend Harvesters to anyone who likes good food at reasonable prices. Great for families!

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                04.06.2011 16:13
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                A family-friendly restaurant with a diverse menu

                Harvester is a British restaurant chain, they own over 150 restaurants across Britain offering a 'pub grub' style menu at really reasonable prices. They pride themselves on being a family pub and a few things, for me, really set them aside from other restaurants. This restaurant is perfect for families and informal dinners.

                I have been to 3 different Harvesters and they all looked incredibly similar. They have a separate bar area so it is possible to just go there for a drink and the food areas are all spacey and standard; wooden tables and wooden chairs. The surroundings, I have found, have always been pleasant so no complaints on this front.
                The menu itself includes starters, main meals and desserts but what I think really sets Harvester aside is the unlimited salad cart that they offer. I think this is a really innovative idea, the salad cart isn't just salad it has pasta, fresh bread and potatoes which is great as an alternative to a starter or to accompany your main meal.

                They have 5 different menus including a take-away menu, a salad and grill menu, the young guests menu, early bird and breakfast menu. This is a wide range of menus, in the past I have only ever eaten from the early bird menu and had younger members of the family eat from the younger guests menu. As for an overall view of the menus, they offer everything from steaks and beef to chicken and vegetarian options.

                The three times I have been to the harvester I have had the steak and chicken, both dishes have been absolutely faultless. You can choose the sides to go with your main meal which is a big advantage and means that the menus aren't rigid but there is a wide variety of choice. I have been with just one other guest and with my family and there was around 12 of us and the number of people in your party does not affect the service which is great, all meals arrived at the same time, which cannot be said for some other restaurants who struggle to cope with larger parties of people.

                The drinks menu is also very diverse, the soft drinks are refillable which saves money and time and the alcoholic drinks are reasonably priced which is unusual for a restaurant as drinks are usually expensive. The atmosphere all three times has been second to none and I really cannot find any disadvantages to eating at the harvester it is great for a whole host of informal occasions.

                It is possible to view all menus and locate your nearest harvester by going to their website which can be found with a quick Google search. I have already commented on the reasonable prices of the menus as a whole, if you check on the website the menus will reflect my views. I have recommended the harvester to several people and I haven't heard any negative feedback from anyone who has visited a harvester restaurant, therefore I award this restaurant 5 stars.

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                  11.05.2011 21:44
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                  A reasonably decent fairly low priced restaurant; good for families, couples or groups.

                  I have been eating at The Harvester on and off for quite a few years. My local Harvester is in Arnos Grove, North West London with one a little further away at Stirling Corner, Borehamwood.

                  I have now decided that I will not be returning to The Harvester at Arnos Grove. The main reason is actually the state and the decor of the place rather than the food. My partner wanted us to go for a meal the other day (early evening). We had previously decided to give the Harvester a rest because we were getting a bit bored of their food. What I mean is, i think its about time they changed their menu a bit and perhaps introduced some new meals. In saying that, they have actually introduced a few new things onto the menu. Anyway i thought "well ok, lets give it a go" as we hadn't been for about 6 months. I would have preferred to go to the Borehamwood Harvester but it wasn't convenient on this occasion to travel that little bit further.

                  My first thoughts as we walked through the door were.... " this is still grimey looking...... they need to do a complete makeover!" If a restaurant appears dirty or grubby then it makes you think that the food will basically be the same. We were shown to our seats quickly, but to be honest the table looked like it hadn't really been cleaned or it wasn't cleaned that good. I don't really like to complain unless i really have to, so i kept this thought to myself. Also the actual decor is very old. The seats are ancient, the tables are ancient and the whole place basically needs updating. There is a smallish separate bar, which is ok but again needs updating.

                  We both noticed that there seemed to be very few staff around. We were given our menus and then waited about 5 minutes. My partner must have been starving as he asked one of the staff if we could now have our order taken. We were told that there was only one waiter but that he would be with us quickly. My partner wasn't very impressed. I have a little bit more patience though and thought, "well we havn't waited that long".

                  To be fair to the Waiter, he came to take our order quickly after this. We chose our food and then went up to the salad bar. The waiter was polite even though he was totally ran off his feet.

                  Actually i love the Harvester salad bar. I always have. You get as much as you like with the early Bird meal (which was what I decided to have). There are various salads to choose from; tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, sweetcorn, onions, beetroot, salad potatoes which i think are in mayonnaise (it would probably be better if these were just left plain as contrary to popular belief not everyone likes mayonnaise!); there are a few other sald items too and vinaigrettes and salad cream and thousand island dressing; also very crispy dry bacon bits and croutons. On this occassion there were plenty of fresh baked warm and good tasting rolls available. I have been before where there were no rolls left and we were basically just standing there waiting for them to arrive, or i have also been when the roils that were there tasted a bit stale. I try not to eat too mucb of the salad so that it doesn't ruin my main meal. To be honest, the salad bar is really a meal in itself in my view!

                  On this occassion i chose from The Early Bird menu; the Harvester Fried Chicken in a spicy cajun coating with chips, salad, bbq dip. and a small corn on the cob. (£5.79) I have only just realised that I did not receive my bbq dip with my meal! I literally didnt even think about the dip at the time. How annoying!


                  My partner chose an 8oz sirloin steak with jacket potato and peas (£10.49) (actually i think he had meant to try to change the peas for something else like mushrooms as i remember before he didn't like their peas. In this respect i certainly don't blame him. Their peas look awful; too big and to me they look like value peas. However, i knew he was hungry and actually he ate the whole lot and he told me he enjoyed it. If he didn't like something he would say. His steak actually looked huge to me too and he said it was cooked just the way he wanted and was tender.

                  Our main meal arrived surprisingly quick; about 10 minutes after we went up to the Salad bar.

                  My meal looked large. I was only expecting one piece of chicken but i was given two. It was nice chicken breast on both peices covered in a slightly crispy spicy coating. I thought it tasted quite nice but was perhaps a little dry. My chips were ok, not too many. The corn on the cob is a bit small to say the least, not really worth having, but it was fine. I ate about 3/4 of the meal. Overall it was quite nice, but not great. However, i would say that I do think it was worth the money.

                  We also both had the unlimited Pepsi/lemonade drinks. I usually always have no more than one large glass though.

                  The Early Bird meals are pretty good and very good value for the money. They start from only £4.99 (for either Sausage & mash or Simply pasta) rising to £7.49 for The Original Combo. These are decent size meals and combined with as much as you like from the salad bar are well worth it.

                  Below are a few selections of some of the food/Drink available from the starters, main, sides, desserts, vegetarian and Early Bird Menu;

                  ~~~You can have as much salad as you like with any main meal~~~

                  ~~Starters~~

                  Breaded Mushrooms (in crispy coating with garlic & herb dip); £3.19
                  Baby back of ribs (small portion of Harvester ribs with A BBQ glaze) ; £5.49
                  Prawn Cocktail ; £3.49
                  Spicy crackerjack king prawns (spiced king prawns with a chilli, ginger & spring onion dip) ; £3.99
                  Fully loaded Nachos;nachos with guacamole, salsa, mozzerella, cheddar and monterey jack cheeses, jalapenos and sour cream with chives; £4.49 for 2 to share or a smaller portion for one available.

                  ~~Mains~~

                  ~Grills~

                  (Served with choices of jacket potato,seasoned fries, mashed potato, baby potato, pillau rice)

                  1/2 spit roast chicken; £6.19
                  Full back of ribs; £9.99

                  ~Steaks~

                  10 oz Ribeye; £13.49
                  12 oz Rump: £12.49
                  8oz Sirloin; £10.49

                  ~~Burgers~~

                  Crispy bacon and cheeseburger; £6.99
                  Cajun chicken burger ; £5.79

                  ~~Fish~~

                  Flame grilled salmon fillet with green beans ;£8.49
                  Grilled Sea bass fillets with green beans £10.99

                  ~~Combos~~

                  Plantation platter (for 2 sharing) ; flame grilled chicken wings, a baby back of bbq glazed ribs, half a spitroast chicken, crackerjack prawns with grilled corn on the cob, grilled pineapple rings and sweet and sour chive dip (with 2 sauces and choice of 2 sides) £19.99

                  The Combine Harvester (for 2 sharing); Spitroast chicken, flame grilled chicken breast strips, chicken wings and pork sausage, with grilled corn on the cob, onion rings and sweet and sour chive dip; £17.49

                  Both of the above combos are also available in smaller portions for one person

                  ~~Extras~~

                  Onion rostis; white, red and spring onions seasoned with black pepper £1.99
                  Sampler of side;Breaded mushrooms, garlic bread and onion rings; £2.29
                  Garlic chilli dough balls; £0.99
                  Roasted flat mushrooms; £1.69

                  ~~Desserts~~

                  (The desserts do look delicious but its rare that i have one as i'm usually full up with the salad and main meal!)

                  Brownie & ice cream; (i've tried this once and its absolutely delicious!); chocolate brownie served with belgian chocolate sauce and cornish vanilla ice cream; £3.99
                  Treacle sponge pudding with hot custard ;£3.59
                  Profiteroles with white chocolate and Belgian chocolate sauce served with cornish vanilla ice cream; £3.59

                  ~~Harvester ice cream sundaes~~

                  Toffee waffle sundae; waffle pieces with Devonshire toffee sauce, cornish vanilla ice cream and fluffy cream and Belgian chocolate sauce; £3.59

                  Lemon blizzard;layers of meringue, lemon sauce, Cornish vanilla ice cream with fluffy cream and a wafer;
                  £3.59

                  ~~Vegetarian~~

                  Stuffed mushrooms; mushrooms with mascarpone, slow roasted tomato and chilli risotto served with buttered baby potatoes, garden peas and half a tomato; £6.79

                  Jambalaya stack; Roasted peppers and rice, layered with roasted aubergine, topped with Goats cheese; served with tomato sauce and rocket with garlic bread; £6.99

                  One thing i noticed that is great is that Harvester write down the amount of calories in their foods, even with their desserts!!

                  ~~Drinks~~

                  Unlimited Pepsi, pepsi max, diet pepsi or R Whites lemonade
                  Berry blast or Tropical island smoothie
                  Milkshakes (chocolate, strawberry or banana)

                  Bottled; J20;Pennine water (still or sparkling); Fanta orange;7 up lemon & lime.

                  ~~Alcoholic drinks~~

                  ~~Wines~~

                  Chardonay
                  Pinot grigio
                  Blossom hill
                  Carignon merlot
                  Pinot grigio rose
                  Sparkling wine; Yellow tails

                  ~~Beer/Stout~~

                  Carlsberg
                  Carling
                  Fosters
                  Stella Artois
                  Tetleys smoothflow
                  Guiness

                  ~~Cider~~

                  Bulmers/strongbow
                  Bottles;Magners original and pear

                  Bottled lagers;Budweiser, Peroni, Sol, Becks blue alcohol free

                  Spirits; Smirnoff vodka, Bacardi, Gordons gin, Jack daniels, Southern comfort, Malibu, Bells whiskey, Malibu

                  ~~Locations~~

                  You will find Harvesters located all over the country; North, South, East, West, Scotland & Wales

                  I think it may vary how much you enjoy yourself at Harvester depending on which restaurant you go to. The Harvester in Borehamwood for example is really nice; its big, looks clean, has a pleasant atmosphere and lovely decor whereas the Arnos Grove one as i've already stated is in desperate need of a revamp. It can make all the difference to the overall experience. However, from the food i have tasted in both, the standard seems to be about the same.

                  Really, i believe that Harvester is pretty good value for money. If you stick with the Early bird choice (though more limited in choice) its well worth it; though you may prefer to spend a little more for a much more wider choice of meals.

                  It can be a pleasant experience eating out at The Harvester anD I would recommend it for both couples and families and get togethers. When i used to go with my children when they were younger they would complete the free colouring in pictures. This is good as it keeps the kids occupied whilst waiting for their meals. Try to locate a good one though with a nice ambience and you will all enjoy the experience alot more.

                  I have decided that although good value regarding prices, because there are certain things i am not satisfied with (in particular the state of the Arnos Grove Harvester) that it deserves 3 stars. I would have probably awarded it 4 stars had it not been for the grimey conditions at their Arnos Grove eatery.

                  For further information regarding Harvester restaurants see their website at http://www.harvester.co.uk/

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                  • More +
                    28.02.2011 17:32
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                    Excellent cheap meal out that is great for families

                    My husband and I took my mother here yesterday for a meal for Sunday lunch rather than cook. We arrived at 12.30 thinking that without booking it might be busy if we left it to a later time - we were therefore very surprised to see that even then it was almost full up! I haven't eaten in a Harvetser for many many years and had considered it to be very mediocre in quality and service, though I had recalled that there always used to be an excellent salad bar - we not were not disappointed as there it was as we walked in.

                    Despite being so busy the place was well staffed and within seconds of sitting down we had the menus and drinks orders had been taken. We all had soft drinks but were pleasanatly surprised to find that aside from Mum's pineapple juice, the two drinks my husband and I had were refillable free of charge - now thats a rarity in this day and age!

                    We placed our orders (main course only as none of us were particularly hungry) which for the most part come with either chips or jacket potato however unlike many other restaurants we were pleased to find that if for instance you ordered a steak and wanted a sauce, they also came as part of the price. Every main meal also came with an unlimited number of trips to the salad bar. We all actually ended up with chicken in various guises and of course had to visit the salad bar to bring back memories of years gone by. I was pleased to see that they had kept their ideas up to date with various leaf dishes, bean salads, beetroot salad mix, etc as well as traditional lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes, however also that there were various dressings including for the more healthy conscious of us, a low fat variety. We duly piled our dishes up and returned to our table only to be sat down for less than a minute and our meals arrived.
                    The chicken I have to say was very succulent which for a griddled breast was excellent as it so easily could have dried out. The jacket potato that I had though very crispy on the outside was soft and fluffy on the inside and the peas also were cooked to perfection unlike the often overcooked ones many palces serve when catering for the masses.
                    The waitresses were very attentive stopping by several times to check we had everything, it was ok etc and to clear the table when we finished offering us dessert or coffee. We all declined further food or drink as we were well and truly full up but we asked for the bill which came almost instantly totalling £20.92. We were quite shocked at how low this was as despite the food obviously being of reasonable price, most places usually make up this loss on profit by charging extra for the drinks.

                    Mediocre service as we had previously though it would be? - no way - it was excellent service, well presented and tasty food and we will definitely be going again!

                    A pleasant experience and one that I will certainly recommend to others. Not haute cuisine but much better than your average pub grub and a lot more reasonable in price - great for families whom we noticed were well looked after.

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                    • More +
                      22.02.2011 16:57
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                      A good visit with kids when you don't want to have a conversation and want reasonable food.

                      My family aren't great restaurant visitors so Harvester has been our choice of celebration restaurant since I can remember. We also frequent it in March when it's our birthdays and for exams results in August. Now it's still the restaurant of choice for a family gathering.

                      Over the years I have been to several different Harvesters, London ones, Leicester, Brighton (2 different ones) and Cardiff. With one exception (mentioned in a minute) I have always thought that the food was reasonable and enjoyed the experience, it has never bowled me over though. My family don't drink and so for us it was always quite important that the bar was very separate from the "restaurant" area and without exception this has been the case. It never really feels like a pub to me and for us this is a huge advantage because this is quite unique.

                      Service is usually quite good, again not outstanding. Sometimes it can take a while to get the food out and get served and it can be near on impossible to get someone to get the bill for you, this always seems rather strange to me. Infact sometimes it can take so long that my family have a joke saying we should stand up and leave, then they'd chase us pretty fast!!

                      Unfortunately Harvester seem to discourage bookings, in fact for many years my local one wouldn't even take any. Now they do but they don't seem happy about it and don't make it easy when you ring up or you arrive and the booking you made no longer exists!! This isn't useful when you are family of 6 and have to then wait 45mins for a table or when you have a party with young children in it.

                      As I stated, most of the Harvesters have been very good, however, the North Brighton restaurant is awful. I have visited this on 2 occasions, trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. The first time I was there we got a table quickly and it was a lovely window view, however, that was the only good thing. We ordered starters and a main and 1 hour later we were still waiting. After this the waitress kept popping over telling us it was on its way until eventually she admited the kitchen hadn't received the order and were just making it for us. Having waited this long (2 hours) for our starters and main we then decided it wasn't worth waiting for desert. We did get that meal free due to the long wait so it wasn't all bad, but we had chosen this particular restaurant as the quick choice for family that needed to get back home, it certainly wasn't quick. The second visit wasn't much better so now this restaurant will not be the choice. I'll try central Brighton or Marina, both of which I've been too and was a good experience.

                      The menu in Harvester has recently had a revamp but I can't say that I noticed a huge difference. Rather than set menus you can now choose a variety of sides and sauces but the main meals are still the same choices. I enjoy their food and find there's plenty of choice, burgers, pasta, grills, steak etc... It's usually pretty good. Harvester used to offer an early bird deal which meant if you got there before 6.30pm you got the meals cheaper. However, now this has all changed and certain meals are on special and cheaper all the time whilst others are always expensive. This limits the choices but also means you aren't trying to get there by a certain time, or are annoyed when you arrived before the limit but there was no table and then ended up paying full price. I enjoy the deserts at Harvester but I always remember from years ago how much better they used to be. One of the things with the update is the loss of the delicious sundaes. Now my family always go for the honeycomb explosion because it's the only one that is any good. Such a shame.

                      Harvester is good for Kids and the menu is reasonable but if you go with an adult party it can seem very noisy. We frequently have trouble hearing ourselves and having a conversation.

                      Overall:
                      I like the food and the price of Harvester, it's reasonable but not amazing. However, it's a loud, exhausting process and it really depends on which restaurant you visit. If it is the only thing in the area visit it but if you have reasonable choice I would suggest choosing something else.

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