Some months ago, I accompanied a small group of co-workers to an informal business lunch on Harry's six-table front patio, and the setting seemed perfectly appropriate. Most of the party ordered sandwiches, and I snagged an order of finger steaks. One of our gang didn't like his salad much, but as near as I could tell, everyone else was pleased. My little breaded steaks were tender and exceptionally delicious.
With a recollection of this rendezvous firmly planted in my brain, I grabbed a pal and revisited Harry's last week, dressed in our Wednesday best. We ventured indoors this time and immediately felt completely at home. The decor is warm and features cleverly selected movie posters: the Billy Crystal-Meg Ryan When Harry Met Sally and Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, among others.
The satellite radio serenaded us with adult contemporary guitar sounds and the dark-colored tables and carpets dampened the hubbub of our fellow lunchers' conversations. Though having a waiter clad in shorts in a typical bar and grill would suggest to me an odd informality, Harry's comfortably dressed waitstaff added personality.
The British Open golf tournament played on the bistro's five televisions as we chose our meals. By coincidence, my friend and I ordered nearly the same thing—a sandwich topped with ham and Swiss—though his base protein was chicken and mine was a one-third pound burger. His, the Blue Ribbon Chicken ($7.79), looked kind of like a gourmet version of Arby's cordon bleu; and with a slice of pineapple and teriyaki sauce on my bun, mine was fairly easy to recognize as a Hawaiian burger ($7.79).
We discussed how it stacked up against Red Robin, one of our favorite Parkcenter eateries. And we agreed: pretty well. My pal said Harry's fare tasted more homemade, while I thought that if Red's sandwiches are geared toward teens, maybe this place would be better suited for their parents' more sophisticated palates.
We passed on alcohol during our quick lunch stop, though there were three domestic drafts ($3), 13 premium brews (all $4 except Guinness, $4.50) and a multitude of wines from which to choose. I got a Diet Pepsi ($1.75) instead. Hey, it never hurts to cut the calories when I can.
Far more than the beverages, it was the fry sauce that caught my interest. Harry's fries are double the size of most fast food joints', but about two-thirds smaller than Red Robin's oversized steak fries, and were decidedly in need of some dip. After two or three dips, I wondered what caused the spicy kick. "Horseradish," the waiter explained. Odd; I usually hate horseradish, but that fry sauce is really good. I was full after finishing my burger and half of my fries, yet I couldn't help but polish off the rest of the basket.
The lone pool table at the back of Harry's was unused during the noon hour and despite a healthy number of diners, there were still quite a few empty tables.
Harry's has been on Parkcenter for more than a year and sadly, I've now been there only twice. My dining buddy and I decided that we'll have to come grab an after-work drink there sometime soon. After describing my visits to my girlfriend, I've decided she needs to sample Harry's food as well.
And if insisting that my oft-picky other half will enjoy Harry's Parkcenter doesn't tell you they've got my personal stamp of approval, I doubt anything will.
—Travis Estvold wishes he could wear shorts at his day job.