Sunday, April 15, 2012

Harry's Grille and Tavern

The Food Baby bottom line:

  • Harry's is exactly what Southwest Charlotte needs
  • Nice variety of good solid American dishes, interesting small plates, and a groundbreaking Top Shelf Burger
  • Local beers and desserts round out the menu nicely

I love my little neighborhood...but a dining mecca it is not. If you live in the Steele Creek area, you feel my pain. While there are plenty of casual options (think chain restaurants and BBQ), there's nothing great on the higher-end of the dining spectrum...until now. Harry's Grill and Tavern opened in March, and I have to say I was ecstatic to welcome them to the 'hood.

Per the website, Harry's is "reminiscent of one of New York City’s finest gastro-pubs." The menu is mostly classic American, and offers a selection of hot and chilled small plates along with a traditional full menu.

Interesting menu fact: Harry's has recently developed a "Top Shelf" burger, which is made with LaFrieda beef. As in, Pat LaFrieda the NYC "Meat Magician" whose show, Meat Men, just debuted on The Food Network. (I'm in meat groupie heaven!) We didn't have the burger for this review, but I sat on the burger development panel mentioned in this press release, so I know all about the truffle oil, the havarti cheese, the exotic mushrooms, and the crazy good croissant bun. Are you aroused yet?

We stopped in last Friday night to sample some tasty menu selections. Harry's has a modern but warm atmosphere - all dark woods accented by pops of red. The bar area is huge, and offers cozy couches and pub tables for max schmoozing potential.

Fab bar atmosphere

It's worth mentioning that Harry's is a purveyor of local brews, serving an impressive selection of North Carolina beers on tap (along with a super sexy cocktail menu). If only I didn't happen to be knocked up at the moment, I obviously would have enjoyed a frosty glass or two....or five.

Famous Harrys in the lounge area
Our first course was the Beer Cheese Soup, which was rich creamy deliciousness. Made with manchego, asiago, and cheddar cheeses, and Mother Earth Weeping Willow Wit beer...and some excellent flavor bomb crouties on top. The cheese was strong while the beer flavor was subtle, and we loved it with a dash of salt. Those croutons! I should have asked for extras.

Beer Cheese Soup

Our second appetizer was the Lobster Mac and Cheese. What a fabulous rendition: gorgeous hunks of lobster meat and penne pasta smothered in manchego, asiago, and parm cheeses, topped with an herb-panko crust. This is high-end hangover food. We ate every last bite.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

To round out our small plate samplings, we tried the Chilled Sesame Noodles. This dish was a happy surprise: one of only a couple ethnic dishes on a solidly American menu. The buckwheat noodles, julienned veggies, and Thai peanut sauce melded perfectly, and I appreciated the thoughtful touch of the pickled ginger. This dish was super refreshing, light and balanced...and fortunately not a salt bomb like so many Asian noodle dishes.

Chilled Sesame Noodles

The highlight of our evening: The Crab Cake Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries. I can honestly say this was one of the best crab cakes I've ever had. Chef Keith Roybal told us that he's used the same recipe for the last 15 years, after winning a crab cake contest in New Jersey. The dish was greater than the sum of it's parts: the spicy wasabi aioli and crunchy Asian apple slaw made for a brilliantly composed dish.

Tyler Birchfield, partner/owner, walked by and overheard me blurt "Holy BALLS" while attacking this sando. I probably should have been more embarrassed, but I was too involved with the crab cake to care.

Oh, and the fries...Shawn usually doesn't like SPF's but he couldn't leave these alone. Chef Keith informed us that these are prepared with a bit of extra sugar which caramelizes in the fryer (boioing). The huge sea salt crystals make these the perfect salty-sweet treat.

Crab Cake Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries

Entree #1: Seared Salmon with Sauteed Julienned Vegetables and Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes. First observation about this dish - the brick-sized hunk of salmon is huge (not complaining). It had a nice strong dijon-panko crust, which is good since it had a lot of salmon to cover. It was cooked right to medium, so if you like yours cooked a bit more, be sure to specify.

I was strangely obsessed with the julienned veggies - they were sauteed perfectly with just olive oil, roasted garlic, and salt and pepper...simple crunchy goodness. Unfortunately, the roasted red potates were kind of a buzzkill. A bit undercooked and severely lacking in seasoning...sadly they looked better than they tasted.

Seared Salmon with Sauteed Julienned Vegetables and Roasted Potatoes

Entree #2: Buffalo Meatloaf, served with Grilled Veg Ratatouille and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. WOW. The meatloaf is prepared with 100% buffalo meat, bacon, and cheddar cheese, ie savory sex on a platter. It was moist (secret ingredient: touch o' bacon fat), but had a nice toasty crust on the edges. The chipotle sauce was incredible...if you like spicy, which I happen to adore.

The ratatouille included zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, and portabellas. A nice rendition, though I admit to being stuck on those julienne veggies from the salmon course. The mashed potatoes had a lot of sweet roasted garlic, which was quite welcomed.

Buffalo meatloaf with veg ratatouille and roasted garlic mashed potatoes

In a feat of gastronomic athletics, we ordered dessert: the Tuxedo Cake. Locally sourced from Queen City Desserts, this slice had heavenly layers of chocolate cake, vanilla bean cheesecake, and chocolate mouse. Shawn and I are shameless whores for chocolate mouse cakes like this, and this one was just excellent. Rich but not too sweet and a perfect end to a great meal.

Tuxedo Cake

We are so pumped about Harry's. It's great to have a high quality original restaurant right here in our neighborhood. It's worth the trip down - only 9 miles from uptown people! - for the Top Shelf burger, if nothing else.


Stuffed and smug!

Harry's Grille & Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. Could not agree more about the crab cake and fries. Awesome review!!!!!

  2. Good to see you blogging again. And welcome to the 'hood Harry's. Been there three times already.

  3. MMM YUM! I must get here ASAP! That Tuxedo Cake looks to die for!!