Once a month—after his last customer pays up and the house lights have dimmed—Late Harvest Kitchen chef-owner Ryan Nelson treats his entire staff to a lavish after-hours sit-down dinner. The feast begins with a toast and ends with a dessert decadent enough to stop the conversation (ice-cream–stuffed profiteroles on the night we crashed this party). In between, the short ribs get passed, the wine and PBR flow, and the waitstaff gets waited on. “When we first did this, we had 12 people. Now we have 25,” says Nelson. Some of the diners at the table have worked with him since his Oceanaire Seafood Room days. Everyone feels like family.
So what’s on the menu at the best table in town that doesn’t take reservations? This evening’s theme, Back-of-the-House Favorites, is a Cliffs Notes version of Late Harvest Kitchen’s high-peasant cuisine—an elegant spread of lusty, hands-on dishes, perfect for sharing among friends.
Photos by Stacy Newgent