Home 231, Harrisburg
Imagine ordering your favorite dish from a restaurant, and knowing that almost every ingredient on your plate came from a local, sustained source. Most people aren't one to question the resource of their food when dining out; but nowadays, when the concept of supporting local agricultural is more significant than ever, restaurants that feature farm fresh ingredients are on the rise. The ever-growing trend toward locally sourced meals is heartening for anyone who values eating well, not to mention saving the planet. Now eating local is a full-fledged genre and more and more farm-to-table dining establishments are beginning to emerge; one in particular sits in the heart of the capital region.
This past weekend, I enlisted a fellow foodie friend to venture downtown for a much-awaited dinner at one of the most talked about farm-to-fork restaurants in the city, Home 231. If you weren't looking for it, you might miss this hidden treasure. Home 231 sits nestled on the quite block of North Street, away from the brazen 2nd Street restaurant row.
Despite a full parking lot and limited street parking, the restaurant wasn't overly crowded for the 6:30 PM dinner rush on a Saturday night. We were seated right away and handed a drink menu to get us started.
I began my dining journey with spirits from the bar. The Cucumber Flower first caught my eye; cucumber infused vodka, St. Germaine and Limoncello. I was under the impression that I would be getting a martini but the tall cocktail glass proved me wrong. Regardless, the drink was light, refreshing and delicious.
The double-sided menu was promptly presented so that we could begin our selection process. My friend and I decided to split an appetizer and each order a different entree from the menu so that we could sample a little of each.
We began with the Baby Beet Salad, which consisted of baby arugula, roasted beets, Camelot Valley goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts. Although this salad doesn't seem like anything extravagant, it blew me away. The goat cheese was noticeably fresh and melted beautifully with each bite.
For my entrée, I chose the pan-seared salmon over pumpkin gnocchi and sautéed spinach. As soon as I placed my order, the waitress asked if medium rare would be acceptable for my fish. I must note, I always applaud when restaurants try to persuade the diner to trust the cooking temperature of meats and fish to the chef. Salmon takes on its full flavor when it is cooked just slightly underdone, and takes on an entirely different taste when overcooked. Medium rare was perfectly fine with me and I was satisfied when my fish came out delicately fleshy. I loved everything about my dish but the pumpkin gnocchi was truly a delightful side dish.
My dining partner opted for seafood as well; day boat scallops over winter risotto. It was another beautiful presentation and even more appealing taste. The scallops were cooked to perfection and paired seamlessly with the creamy risotto.
Dessert was a tossup between the molten chocolate cake and the apple streusel, but the homemade vanilla maple ice cream that accompanied the streusel won me over in the end. A warm flaky phyllo crust covered tart cinnamon apples and served as the ideal sweet ending to a hearty meal.
Now, the taste of the food was extraordinary, but what makes Home 231 stand apart from most of its fine dining competitors is the concept behind it. A large portion of the ingredients come directly from local farms and sustainable sources that the chef could cite when asked.
Rob Dacko, head chef, came to Home 231 when its doors opened over a year ago. Coming from a highly organic-influenced environment of restaurants in Philadelphia, Dacko understands the importance of delivering food that utilizes small farms and local produce. It's not only benefiting the local food movement, it's providing consumers with the best ingredients that come directly from their backyard.
A majority of the meat and seafood is delivered fresh from Lancaster county and most of the dairy and produce comes from regional sources in Dover, Newburg and Waynesboro. It can be assured that 80% of your plate was delivered directly from the farmer, some the same day you ordered it.
With the emergence of popular chain restaurants in our area, now is the time to reach out and support the establishments that have a true vision for food, the environment and the importance of eating local. I left Home 231 with a clean plate and a solid assurance that the meal I paid for was sourced directly from local, naturally raised and organic ingredients. Now that is something to put my fork into.