Oh my gosh -- I had one of the best meals I've ever had in Augusta one recent Friday night. My husband, Billy, daughter Halley and I decided to go out for my birthday-eve supper and just happened to decide on Harriet's Kitchen. I eat lunch there often and love it, especially the Steven Steven (a ham and turkey sandwich on onion roll with cheese and apricot dressing), and knew the food would be good.
Harriet Goldsmith has catered in Augusta for years (her catering schedule means the restaurant is open for dinner only on Friday evenings; lunch is served weekdays) and has run Harriet's Kitchen (on Jenkins Street off Walton Way behind the old Western Auto) for 10 years.
Few tables were taken, but there was a party in the back room that Harriet uses for groups of up to 80 people. The lights were low, with votive candles and fresh flowers on each table. Sounds from the open kitchen are somehow cozy-feeling to me, and we settled in comfortably.
Our server did not identify herself by name, which was refreshing to us. After reviewing the wine list, which my husband said was excellent and reasonably priced, we ordered a bottle of Rodney Strong zinfandel and a Coke for Halley.
Billy ordered gazpacho, and I ordered the three dipped oysters. From the entrees that also included baked, stuffed salmon, New York strip steak, and pan or grilled chicken breast, he asked for Maryland crab cakes and I the rack of lamb. Halley went out on a limb (as most 12-year-olds with sophisticated palates do) and asked if it were possible to get some form of chicken fingers or strips. Kimberly, our server, agreed to coax the chef to make some up especially for Halley (which she did successfully, though they weren't on the menu).
The gazpacho, a cold, summertime vegetable soup, was excellent, with large chunks of fresh vegetables in a pureed mix of fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and olive oil. My oysters were fried after being dipped three times in what must have been very light batter. They, too, were good, having arrived fresh that day from Harriet's secret seafood source.
Our salads were huge (Harriet reminded us that we didn't have to eat every bite!) with an interesting, creamy feta dressing and a light, raspberry vinaigrette.
My husband said his crab cakes tasted just like his grandmother's, who caught crabs in her back yard on Virginia's Eastern Shore. These cakes, like Nanny's, were full of fresh crabmeat, with the smallest bit of filler to keep them from falling apart. If you can remind a man of his favorite childhood foods, he will be devoted to you forever. Watch out, Harriet.
My lamb, small chops in an herb and Dijon mustard crust, was tender and delicious.
The portions are large at Harriet's, well-prepared and beautifully presented, with a "confetti" of minced parsley and fresh vegetables. Take a big appetite and enjoy!
What: Harriet's Kitchen
Where: 1702 Jenkins St.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. until Fridays
Cost: $5.95 to $7.95 for lunch and $9.95 to $14.95 Friday dinners
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