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The Harrison Restaurant (long review)

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The Harrison Restaurant (long review)

Ann Chantal | Jul 1, 2003 10:59 AM

We went to The Harrison restaurant at Greenwich and Harrison in Tribeca last night. I remember reading very favorable reviews about this place and looked up both the NYTimes and New York magazine reviews in my files. They were both generally laudatory.

Well, we were really disappointed! Originally we were to be a party of four but because of work schedules we lost two people. When we arrived for our 8 PM reservation, we explained the loss of the two others in our party and we were promptly seated at a two-top. And what a two-top! Was it because we were two women? We were seated near a waiter's service station by the windows. Just behind my chair-we are talking 5 inches- was the door to the outside dining area. It was a warm night so it was full of people. And the door banged quite unpleasantly each time someone went out, which was basically every two minutes. They should not have tried to squeeze a two-top in that space during summer weather.

We looked at the menu and decided to order the fried clams with a lemon and coriander aioli and the slices of yellowfin tuna (raw) with a tomato mousse and a cucumber gelee. The two appetizers were served separately. We shared the clams and were very disappointed to see that they were fried clam "strips"-no bellies. In a restaurant of this caliber??!! We commented on it to our waiter and he responded with some bravado "Oh, but we never serve the bellies!" The lemon coriander aioli tasted faintly of coriander, but predominantly tasted of celery salt. When the tuna arrived, they had divided it in two portions as we had requested. But it was served on top of chunks of mashed avocado with cilantro stems. There were two julienne strips of cucumber in the serving dish and a watery cucumber liquid (the gelee which had melted??). We were not given spoons so it was hard to taste the liquid but it was very underseasoned-no salt- and so mild in flavor as to be undiscernible in seasoning.

Because it was hot weather we both ordered fish entrees thinking they would be lighter. The reviews had talked about how the kitchen had a surer hand with savory entrees like the pork chops, lamb shanks, etc. I can only hope they were correct. Both our fish dishes were disappointing. My friend ordered the day boat cod which came with chive mashed potatoes. It was undercooked and underseasoned. I ordered the Artic char which was described as coming with "roasted corn, fresh peas, and tomatoes in a beurre rouge." My fish was perfectly cooked but the corn was slightly steamed kernels, the peas were barely cooked and there was frisee stems mixed in with them, which emphasized how "raw" all the vegetables were. When I talked to the waiter to complain, he went back to the kitchen to check on what had happened and then came back to tell me that the corn had been roasted "in the husk" and that explained the lack of any charred or carmelized appearance to the corn kernels. After he left, my friend and I had to laugh! It certainly didn't explain the complete lack of any "roasted" flavor to the corn.

Our waiter was very pleasant but he was fighting a losing battle. The misinformation that he blithely gave us (vis-a-vis menu items and preparations) made it hard for us to feel forgiving. At one point when we were ordering, we mentioned that we had seen soft-shell crabs on the menu at the restaurant's online site. And he told us with assurance that soft-shell crabs were already out of season! I just saw them again today in Citarella!

We didn't stick around to order dessert although the offerings on the dessert card looked good. The bill came to about $150, with tip. We had two apps, two entrees, two glasses of champagne and two glasses of wine.

The hostess asked us as we were leaving if we had enjoyed the meal and seemed concerned when we expressed our disappointment. But we are both very unlikely repeat customers.

My major complaint about this place, aside from the disappointing food, is the disconnect between the menu descriptions and the food that was served. If you are going to substitute something (i.e. avocado for a tomato mousse, or steamed corn kernels for roasted corn) why not warn the client?

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