Australians have a reputation as privileged coffee supremacists amongst their North American friends. We laugh in the face of our American compadres who declare themselves ‘coffee snobs’ while holding a Starbucks cup and wonder why we are off their invite list a week later.
But laugh no more dear reader as the shape of American coffee in ski towns has been slowly changing in recent years and Park City in Utah is leading the way. The coffee capital irony is not lost in this Mormon state where hot coffee and alcohol is religious sacrilege for those who are Latter Day Sainters.
Park City is already home to some decent coffee for the Australian palate. Ritual Chocolate Cafe serves up a damn fine cortado and the baristas know how to massage milk and a bean to create a more than passable flat white. Atticus Coffee & Tea House (and bookstore) is also worth considering if you can get past the syrups and flavours and powdered chai that the USA love so much. Solution? Order a simple single shot 6 oz latte or a double shot 8oz and you’ll be just fine.
Meanwhile Harvest Park City quietly opened downtown this week, the first of three Australian led coffee dens. Word got out quickly in this whisper town and the breakfast and lunch cafe already had a line of people out the front door come day three.
Emma Worsley is the name behind Harvest Park City, you may know her and her husband Andrew Hoffman together with their hospitality king, Carlo Campana, as the team behind the takeover of the House of Ullr in Thredbo and the soon to launch Monaro Tavern & Brasserie in Fyshwick Canberra.
Worsley, a qualified pilates instructor, already has Studio Pilates at the ‘old Colby School’ and the adjoining heritage building with plans to create a boutique accommodation offering with artisan providores in the years to come.
For now you’ll find her donning a canvas and leather apron and working the teal La Marzocco machine at Harvest. The coffee beans on offer have been created by local roaster, Hugo’s, specifically for the Harvest clientele, and if accents are anything to go by on the opening weekend then let’s just call this Little Australia Harvest with American friends.
Worsley moved to Park City from Sydney’s Northern Beaches (Newport on ‘the Peninsula’) with her four ski racing children so they could train year round. The move is paying off with eldest son, Tommy declared national champion for his age group and daughter, Maddie, fastest in her age group in the USA last season.
Like most Australians before her, she missed the Australian breakfast culture of connecting over coffee and taking time to eat a healthy wholesome breakfast with fresh produce from nearby produce providers.
“It’s not that Australia’s breakfast is better, it’s just different, we are about nourishing and nurturing and connecting at breakfast time and the USA culture is about fueling on the go” explains Worsley.
“But we are all humans on this planet and we all want to connect so Harvest is about providing a platform for everyone to do that over seasonal flavours served up creatively.”
The menu at this ‘understated hipster with soul’ food outlet is peppered with house made muesli, local sour dough from Eva’s Bakery in Salt Lake City using Utah grown organic flour, house fermented vegetables, fresh herbs and a peppering of Asian inspired seasoning.
It is kept simple to ensure the alley style kitchen can provide quality at quantity during peak times.
You’ll find smashed avocado with poached eggs, Acai bowl and the signature Harvest Tart with a fried egg on the breakfast menu plus Worsley’s own paleo banana bread. The Vietnamese pork belly roll with Asian slaw and spicy aioli is already a firm SnowsBest lunch favourite amongst the fresh salmon and quinoa salad, Thai beef salad and soup de jour.
Harvest sits inside a heritage listed building, perched on the edge of 9th and Park Avenue as part of the refurbished Rio Grande complex. Interiors are Hamptons meets Avalon Beach with white tiles, polished concrete, teal bar tiles and gold pendant lighting.
Seating is for a mere 30 people which will no doubt create some issues come peak season and Sundance time. But plans are to incorporate outdoor seating with dining benches on the terrace. For now the team are streamlining systems and servers to ensure efficient turnover with minimal fuss once the chairlifts start turning at the end of November.
It is never easy reviewing a restaurant in the first week of opening when the ‘baby’ has only recently been birthed after months of planning. The cafe has an energy reminiscent of beachside Sydney. I cried when trying the smashed avocado salsa on sourdough with poached eggs. After 18 months abroad it’s the little things I miss about home and this is one of them. Which makes me an easy reviewer – the downsides to Harvest (if there are any) are purely selfish and my fear of not getting a table immediately each time I arrive.
Harvest restaurant manager, Christian Peyrin, has an impressive 20 year hospitality history and a natural French flair that makes every customer feel like the only one in the room. This is a good thing should I ever have to wait to be seated.
Head Chef, James Buonforte, formerly of the Heirloom Restaurant Group, already has a full command of the kitchen team who have completely nailed micro herb presentation and flavour. The service is yet to keep up but that is just a matter of practice and a minor detail for an opening weekend crowd who were buzzing with excitement.
The same with coffee, right now it’s the best in Park City but consistency and barista training will be key in ensuring they retain that place. Especially with Five 5eeds opening down the road next month complete with Mio coffee from Melbourne, Hecker Guthrie interiors and a revolutionary Modbar modular espresso system.
Just as well Five 5eeds founders, Tiffany and Andrew Percy, are family friends with Worsley or it could get ugly. Did we mention Campos Coffee are also opening at Park City before Christmas?
Some would call me a cafe slut. With a laptop and a mobile office I can afford to be. Trouble is I fear Harvest may start charging me office space with the amount of time I plan to spend here. At least you’ll know where to find me should you ever find yourself in Park City (and you should).