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Columns

Mystery Diner: Harvester Cafe offers good food, at-home feel

As chain restaurants and fast-food joints pop up on every corner, it’s reassuring to see locals continue to frequent the spots that have been in their community for years.

I recently visited The Harvester Cafe in Plano, right next to Route 34. A longtime favorite in the area, The Harvester features simple and tasty dishes, and a welcoming environment to Plano residents and all those passing through.

On my visit, I was looking for something warm and filling, to counter the frigid temperatures that we’ve been plagued with recently. I was promptly greeted and sat; the atmosphere of The Harvester was quiet, but busy at the same time, thanks to the vigorous conversations being had at the tables near me.

After a brief look through the menu, featuring both breakfast and lunch, I chose to order a bowl of cream of mushroom soup, and a Harvester steak sandwich with a side of fries.

I’m a big fan of soup, so I was pleased with the cream of mushroom soup at The Harvester. It was thick and rich, with sliced sauteed mushrooms included. It was well-flavored; not too salty or mushroom-y (if that makes sense), but well-balanced and delicious. I’d absolutely order another bowl on my next visit.

For my main course, I went with the Harvester steak sandwich, with grilled onions, mushrooms and aged swiss on a French roll. The sandwich was so big that it came with its own knife, but I was not daunted. The sandwich was incredibly filling, and enjoyable. The grilled onions provided a welcome crunch and texture, while the steak was well-cooked and lightly seasoned, letting the quality of the meat shine through. The melted cheese and mushrooms went well with the sandwich, creating a messy and delicious meal. The fries were also exceptional; thin and crunchy, not dripping in grease or salt.

While I was eating, I took a moment to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of The Harvester. Many chain restaurants such as Bob Evans, IHOP or Denny’s try to replicate the at-home feel of restaurants like The Harvester. From my brief time in the cafe, I could tell that it’s the kind of spot where people have turned their visits into tradition: stopping by every Wednesday to meet and discuss politics, entertainment, life events, and whatever else is going on; spending hours just chatting with friends and family. It was nice to see that kind of environment come natural, instead of being designed by a corporation.

The Harvester Cafe can serve multiple purposes for multiple diners: a quick lunch, a long chat, an inexpensive meal, or a hometown feast. I’m sure that I’ll be back when I next visit Plano.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: The Harvester Cafe

WHERE: 400 E. South St., Plano

HOURS: (effective Feb. 1) 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

MORE INFO: 630-273-8093, Facebook: The Harvester Cafe Plano Rt. 34

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