After a month of travel, mostly to Colorado where our sons have decided to go to college, we are officially empty nesters – at least until the holidays. So as we look at one another in amazement, it seems a good time to have a date night and get re-acquainted. With so many choices in Collin County to enjoy great food, music, and adult beverages, we decided to create a monthly series on great date nights. So, we hope you enjoy this first entry on McKinney and will share your ideas for future ventures.
If you haven’t been to McKinney, I urge you to go. This historic city, and the seat of Collin County, has some great historic houses and things to see as well as great options for a night out. And some of our favorites are conveniently located around the lovely downtown square.
Start at Rye, a tiny spot with artistic craft cocktails, just off the square. It is fun to watch the bartenders move around such a small space, making magical potions that taste as good as they look. With only a few barstools in front of the bar, it is good to go there early before it gets crowded.
Then walk over to Harvest, facing the side of the courthouse, for a delicious farm to table meal. While many restaurants now promote themselves as farm to table, Harvest has built a strong reputation in their three years as being true to their word. Nearly everything in the restaurant is locally sourced including the tables, linens, art, and of course, food. They proudly name the local farms and sources for their inventory. Chef Andrea Shackleford has been around since the founding of the restaurant. She developed relationships with the farmers at the local McKinney Famer Market (link to our blog) and works with them closely. Harvest has even held symposiums on sustainability to build stronger relationships between farmers and restaurants.
Andrea is also a master gardener and oversees the restaurant garden where many of their herbs and vegetables come. She also loves the idea of sustainability and believes in not wasting anything when possible. When we visited, they had recently gotten a bumper crop of tomatoes from a local farmer and Andea set out to use every last bit. First they juiced the tomatoes, then made a sauce. They then dried the remaining pulp for garnish and to add some extra spice or taste to broths and dishes.
Not only does their menu change with the season, but their craft cocktails do as well. Toby Thomason, General Manager, is responsible for the homemade bitters and infused liquors, which look as good as they taste. And for those of you who are like to try new things, they have “noncommittal” cocktails so you can try one and if you don’t like it, send it back without charge! We strongly suggest the Midsummer’s Night created by their bartender, Kayleen Ledford, while it lasts.
And while Harvest has great food, their people are really special. Everyone we spoke to had been with the restaurant for well more than a year - unusual for wait staff – and all took great pride in what they were doing at Harvest. They had a wonderful family atmosphere which spills over into great service. The night we were there, there was a private party for someone’s rehearsal dinner and they took great care in setting up the tables to make it special.
Harvest Farm to Table Restaurant
Harvest Farm to Table Restaurant
After dinner, do some window-shopping around the lovely and romantic town square and work off some of that meal. You will want a little extra room for the final stop of the night, Emporium Pies. Just off the square, this small pie shop has delicious pies, coffee, and tea as the perfect nightcap to your evening.
Of course, if you are still up for more, there is also a vibrant music scene in McKinney with several options to hear some live music.
There are many other fun and delicious spots in McKinney so feel free to let us know your favorites. We might have to revisit in a future blog post. Our next Date Night blog will be on Plano, focusing on the downtown area first.