Will success spoil Harmoni Market? Arriving like a dream come true on the ground floor of a towering new condo building, this 'artisan meal marketâ?� offers all permutations of the gourmet obsession. There's a market stocked with the raw ingredients to create one's own feast, there are partially cooked feasts perfect for that last-minute switcheroo, and there's a breezy bistro where cute kids in requisite black scurry around in full-service efficiency. For a foodie, finding Harmoni is like hitting the trifecta. Contented College Parkers seem to agree, as it's currently enjoying new-kid-on-the-block popularity, bustling with constant well-heeled activity.
The appellation 'Harmoniâ?� is apt. The thing that stands out most at Harmoni is the balanced alchemy of unusual ingredients; you will not find the same old penne alla vodka or humdrum barbecued-chicken pizza here that pass for upscale casual at most other Italian restaurants. Instead, the menu lists one harmonious mixture after another and reduces diners ' well, this one, anyway ' to blissful indecision when attempting to order.
For a culture raised on the never-ending pasta bowl, Harmoni may require an attitude adjustment. A baguette sandwich stuffed with roast pork and manchego looked more like a dainty tea sandwich than the piled-on monsters we've come to expect when eating out; but one taste and the 'quantityâ?� mindset was swiftly relinquished in favor of 'quality.â?� Shavings of salty Spanish cheese and a caper-and-tomato relish spiked the paper-thin slices of sweet roast pork; the baguette was chewy inside, crusty outside. When I finished my sandwich, I wasn't left feeling hungry in the least.
I went back for lunch with a friend later in the week and my esteem only grew. We sat outside, taking advantage of summer's recent end. (This will be more pleasant once the noisy, dusty construction is done on the building. In the meantime, try for a table closer to Edgewater Drive, and avoid rush hour.)
I conquered my menu vacillation long enough to order the luscious fig, bacon and blue cheese penne ($8); I could have had this combination on a flatbread for the same price, and I could have added chicken, salmon, sea scallops or shrimp for $2 or $3 more, were I in the mood for more protein. Instead, I took shameless advantage of this assignment to boss my companion ' he of the dainty appetite and gossipy mouth ' into ordering my No. 2 choice, the equally irresistible lemon, olive and goat cheese flatbread ($8). He showed some backbone by insisting on adding chicken. It worked fantastically. The flatbread arrived on a long white platter, looking impressive but not intimidating. Flavorful bursts of goat cheese, chunks of juicy broiled chicken, herb-fragrant green olives and threads of lemon peel lay atop a crisp, crackly crust, draped with mozzarella. A green salad with roasted potatoes and green beans delicately laced with a velvety lemon-sage dressing came first ($7) and evoked the essence of springtime.
Ã½he entire Harmoni experience is well-considered. It's obvious that each detail has been deliberated upon and aesthetic decisions have been meticulously ironed out. That level of highbrow reflection can be stifling Ã? I witnessed an unintentionally hilarious conversation among staff members about which way the knives should face while I waited for a to-go order ' but so far, the result has been to provide a thoroughly gratifying dining encounter. Harmoni is well on its way to becoming College Park's go-to gourmand gathering place.
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