Harvest Bistro’s owner, Tushar Patel, procured a Madison, New Jersey, delicatessen back in 1996. He named the local deli On a Roll and ran it for over 20 years. Recently, Patel rebranded the establishment to something more personal and refined: Harvest Bistro.
The Back Story
“I went through a rough point in life about my mid-30s,” Patel said. “There was a lot of hard work through that time. The harvest is the hardest time in anyone’s life. There was just a whole ‘season’ [of change].”
Patel said his personal journey led him to rediscover what he wanted out of his restaurant. He was looking to build a fresh-to-table eatery, featuring an eclectic menu of inspired cuisine.
Patel was born in India but raised in Irvington and Union. He notes that his fixation with food comes from his parents, with whom he cooked family meals growing up. Because of that, he views cooking as a familial experience.
A Meaningful Menu
Patel describes Harvest Bistro’s menu as diverse, with many ingredients made in house. And although the selection changes with the seasons, some options are non-negotiable. For example, the coconut chicken and red grape salad is a keeper—for sure. This one is an offering from the restaurant’s previous iteration, and it’s here to stay.
The same goes for the bistro’s crispy cauliflower, which is a tapas-style dish. It’s an offbeat blend of garlic and spices and the brainchild of a collaboration between Patel and Harvest Bistro’s chef, Walter Fernandez.
Over the years, a remarkably classic dish has become a local favorite as well: chicken fingers. “I have one customer who orders more than 2,000 pieces of chicken fingers each year from us,” Patel said.
The rigatoni brisket Bolognese is perpetually in demand as well. “People have requested that by the container,” he said. On a similar note, on the occasion that Patel removes the Cuban sandwich from the specials list, patrons immediately ask for its return.
A Creative Approach
Harvest Bistro captures inspiration from cuisine around the world, and takes an American approach to international flavors. “We play with our food,” Patel said. He revitalizes worldwide fare such as Asian and Italian, infusing each with American tradition. The menu offers a plate for any palate. With that in mind, Patel doesn’t shy away from the chance to create something new upon request. “If it’s not on the menu and we have it, we’ll do it for you.”
Harvest Bistro is a BYO establishment offering ample outdoor seating with tents for rainy days. The restaurant also provides a full catering menu for both private and corporate events. Dietary accommodations, such as gluten-free requests, can be fulfilled when you call ahead, whether you’re dining in or taking out.
50½ Main Street
Tuesday and Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: Catering and private parties