Restaurant Review: Harrys of Hartsdale (3 Stars)

An updated throwback in Hartsdale


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An updated thowback in Hartsdale

 

There is such a thing as reviewer’s bad luck. Say, you’re ordering and the waiter mentions the whole menu is changing the very next night. It’s time to update. Everything’s going!

 

Fortunately, there are a few dishes at Harrys of Hartsdale that the regulars can’t live without. And a restaurant that bills itself a steakhouse and oyster bar is going to have dishes that won’t change no matter how many months go by.

 

It’s only been seven so far, but Harrys has already drawn an enthusiastic and regular clientele. (In fact, our readers voted it “best new restaurant.”) It’s a gorgeous restaurant, right across from the train station in downtown Hartsdale (how handy). The dramatic glass entrance at the corner of this two-story brick building delivers you to the bar–and it’s a stunner. The floor-to-ceiling cherry back bar has fanciful, chandelier-like wall sconces with lampshades over each light and crystals dangling beneath.

 

In some ways it seems a throwback to the fifties—steak and seafood, a lively bar scene, little lampshades on the table, a jazz combo, waiters in white uniforms (no gloves)—even the name. But its classic American persona and T-bones are served up with modern styling and new American cooking (read: ingredients from everywhere). People have responded: it was packed even on a Thursday night.

 

Across from the bar are banquettes and tables, and beyond the live jazz combo (Thursday only), there’s more seating at the oyster bar at the back of the room. Upstairs is the formal dining room, a spacious room with creamy yellow walls, quiet art, and lots of fanciful floor lamps and sconces.

 

The showy serving pieces added elegance to the meal, which began with a silver basket filled with three onion-flavored rolls and pot of butter covered by a silver top. The wine list is fairly extensive—probably a hundred wines—and leans towards California, with some good selections. The wines in the $30 range didn’t tempt me, so we sprang for a bottle of 1997 Simi Reserve Chardonnay ($60), and it offered the restraint, complexity and depth of flavor you can find in California’s better Chardonnays.

 

Oysters are a good place to start, shucked and served on crushed ice with a cheesecloth-covered lemon wedge (no stray seeds) and vinegar. The minimum order is six (at $2 apiece), and the choices include: Fanny Bay oysters from Denman Island in British Columbia; Malpeques from Prince Edward Island, Canada; and Kumamotos from Humbolt Bay in California. Add some cherrystone or littleneck clams, chilled jumbo shrimp and lobster, and you have the Pinta ($30), the Nina ($50) and the Santa Maria ($78)—tiered silver trays that get progressively larger until just having a waiter pass through the room creates a spectacle.

 

The grilled section of the menu has changed from “a la carte” with sides of gratin potatoes, creamed spinach, etc. Now vegetables and a side dish appear on every steak plate: the rack of lamb ($24) comes with a smoked bacon and cremini mushroom hash; the T-bone ($32) with a three cheese potato gratin and the filet mignon ($28) with garlic whipped potatoes. We tried the filet mignon medium rare, and it was simple and fine though it could have been a tad juicier, and it did seem a little lonely on the plate. The pastas are all new, including the angel-hair pasta with seared chicken, teardrop tomatoes and arugula in a saffron cream sauce ($18).

 

One house entrée that is staying is the Napoleon of Atlantic salmon ($23), a stack of slices of richly marbled salmon, creamed spinach, and a potato lattice, served in beurre blanc with garnet swirls from a beet and horseradish coulis. I liked this dish but for the potato lattice, which to my palate didn’t add much but height. New is West Coast halibut, wrapped in potato, pan-seared, and served with a root vegetable tartin, ginger and port wine reduction and miso sauce ($24).

 

My favorite dessert was an updated Dreamsicle—Tahitian vanilla ice cream and mango sauce served on shortcake ($7) with a creme anglaise and raspberry coulis. Ahh—there’s nothing like revisiting a childhood pleasure fashioned for the adult palate. Another fresh update is lemon yogurt crème brûlée with fresh melon and apricot purée.

 

The service could use a little polish—our waiter forgot the water, didn’t know the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine, and neglected to point out several dishes that weren’t available until we tried to order them. But it smoothed out after that.

 

After just a few months it seems like Harrys has been there a long time. And I predict it will be.

 

HARRYS OF HARTSDALE

230 Hartsdale Ave., Hartsdale

(914) 472-8777

 

HOURS:

Dinner,

Mon. and Tue. 3-10 pm,

Wed. and Thurs. 3-10:30 pm,

Fri. and Sat. 3-11:30 pm,

Sun. 3-9 pm

 

PRICES:

Appetizers: $9-$16

Entrées: $18-$32

Desserts: $7-$9

 

RATINGS:

Food—VVV

Service—VV

Décor—VVV1/2

 

 

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