Southern Eating

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Photo by Karla Towle
Photo by Karla Towle

Add Harvest 18 to the number of local eateries infiltrating the chain-heavy areas of southern Durham. Chef Jason Smith, who also owns 18 Seaboard and Cantina 18 in Raleigh, saw the location as a “neighborhood community by a mall, and we thought there was a pent-up demand for a neighborhood restaurant.” He’s made it a goal to become south Durham’s go-to mom-and-pop. His equation for success in a sea of national brands? A welcoming, casual atmosphere plus farm-fresh dishes at affordable prices. “This whole slow food movement thing isn’t going to work if it’s not more accessible to everybody,” Chef Smith says. Carefully curated dishes reflect his food philosophy, like the pork belly lettuce wraps. Pork belly slices arrive on hydroponic Bibb lettuce leaves from Green Haven Plant Farm in Carthage, N.C. House-made herb crema, a Togarashi pepper puree and pickled radishes are liberally spread across the pork, making for a hearty appetizer with subtle spice and slight crunch, thanks to the radishes. Chef Smith is all about texture, and it translates in the presentation of his shrimp and grits plate – the grits are course-ground, the Burch Farms’ collards are braised to maintain a bit of integrity and the jam includes Heritage Farms’ bacon and chopped onions. It’s a consistency that keeps you coming back till your dish is clean, no matter how many lettuce wraps you’ve had already.

Harvest 18 | 8128 Renaissance Pkwy., Ste. 114 | 919.316.1818 |

Ed. Note: This article was first published in our June/July 2014 issue. Chef Jason Smith will be participating in Taste 2015‘s Grand Taste Experience April 23. Tickets here.

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Amanda MacLaren

Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Arizona, she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for eight years. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Guasaca.

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