Union Square Park housed what felt like an adult picnic for the 18th Annual Harvest in the Square on Tuesday, September 17, where fifty area restaurants and twenty wineries displayed their wares to celebrate the community and its cuisine. Union Square, on the edge of lower Manhattan, boasts the oldest Greenmarket, many fine restaurants and shops and a historic park. The foodie event was a benefit for the Union Square Partnership, which has worked to maintain the park for the last 37 years.
Even though there was a large tent on the North Plaza for the tasting and a main stage for live music, the park was not forgotten. Decorative pumpkins, carved with the names of sponsors and restaurants, had been placed throughout the tent, a perfect compliment to fall fauna and foliage that dotted the venue.
Harvest in the Square reflected the high caliber and variety of culinary styles available in Union Square, giving over 1,200 attendees a “taste of the district.” Each sample was expertly paired with wines. Exhibitors enticed guests with an array of delights: king crab cucumber-yogurt soup from BLT Fish, two-bite crab cakes from City Crab & Seafood Company, smoked blue fish from Almond, tender meatballs from Bread & Tulips and brisket and sweet potato mash from Hill Country Barbecue Market. Many of the restaurants used produce from the Greenmarket in their creations like the colorful beets in the salad offered by Tocqueville or the wheat berry salad from GrowNYC Greenmarket. Dessert was also in full force with spiced apple cake from Blue Smoke, soft ricotta cheesecake from craft, and whiskey truffles from Singl Lounge. This year’s restaurant chairs were Marco Moreira and Joann Makovitzky of One Five Hospitality, which runs a few Union Square restaurants.
This event not only promotes business, as Michael Vignola, executive chef of Strip House said, but also gives locals and foodies alike a chance to support the community. Many of the restaurants have participated in the event for over a decade, noted Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership. She also said that the event remains simple because “the food sells itself,” and it is a “showcase of the culinary strength of the neighborhood.” Falk added that it is “gratifying to see everyone one come together” and celebrate the “sense of community” and “highlight the landscape.” Larry Wisler, head of PR for Hill Country Chicken also stressed those themes, saying that its C.E.O. is an advocate of Union Square and local parks who believes it is important to support the neighborhood.
Since its inception, Harvest in the Square has raised $4.45 million— $347,095 this year— for the Union Square Partnership, helping to fund year-round programming and beautification of Union Square Park. As the leading advocate for the Union Square-14th Street community, the partnership engages area residents, businesses and institutions to ensure the district’s growth, while creating a cleaner and more enjoyable environment.