Food & Drink » Food Review

Harry's Parkcenter Grill

404 E. Parkcenter Blvd., 208-424-8211, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., everyday

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My first thought walking into Harry's on Parkcenter was, "Thank God, air conditioning!" The walls at Harry's Parkcenter Grill are plastered with posters of movies with the name "Harry" in them: Dirty Harry, When Harry Met Sally, The Trouble with Harry. It's all so clever and Harry's really is a lot of fun. Not only do they have a great selection of beer on tap—from Bud Light to Guinness—but there's a pool table and four televisions, including a big screen. You can play pool, drink a beer, eat a huge burger and watch the Broncos and Everybody Loves Raymond at the same time.

Back in the day, I used to frequent the North End and Hyde Park, so the food at Harry's isn't a big surprise to me. It's a colorful twist on standard barroom fare—burgers, sandwiches, salads and a plethora a fried delights. And since I'd never seen a restaurant offer straight-up fried jalapeno strips, I went with the Texas Toothpicks, a mix of fried jalapeno and onion strips served with ranch dip ($5.29). Definitely delicious. As I munched away, I struggled over my entree options. With so many mouth-watering items, it was hard to choose. Should I go with a burger? The bacon-cajun ranch burger sounded wonderful. Or maybe a barbecue roast beef sandwich? Or maybe go a more health-conscious route and order a taco salad which comes in one of those great edible taco bowls that I knew would be good (I love it when I can eat my dishes). But while I was deciding, a great blues tune played over the house speakers (which, by the way, was the caboose on a long train of great songs I heard during my visit), so I decided to go with the Elwood Blues ($7.29). It's a spicy grilled chicken sandwich that apparently came out of the Tabasco cookbook. It was not short on the spice. My mouth was on fire. Luckily, I love that feeling. And I was pleasantly surprised to detect other flavors in the mix. I tasted a little bit of tang and just a hint of sweetness. Clearly, there is a higher level of complexity in the Harry's recipe book than in an average bar and grill spot.

Knowing that food is only half the experience, I gave Harry's a true test in customer service. I walked in with a mohawk and a doo-rag, my classic punk-kid suit. The server/bartender, though maybe a little distant, was prompt and courteous. My food came out of the kitchen surprisingly fast, and I was never in need of a refill, which was good considering the heat. And though it was too hot outside at the time, I could envision enjoying a pitcher of beer on the patio hanging out with friends with the tree-lined duck pond at Parkcenter as our view. My only criticism of Harry's would be that some items seem a bit over-priced (my root beer was $2.75). Still, Harry's on Parkcenter is an enjoyable experience with great food and a loose, fun atmosphere and I hope they can bring that energy to all of their future locations.

—Tom Kershaw thinks Tabasco should be the state sauce.