As head chef at the new Harry’s Food and Cocktails, Steven Brown wants to democratize haute cuisine, to bring his gourmet sensibilities to the people — and as often as possible.
“I don’t want to see people four times a year,” said Brown, whose last chef’s gig was topping the white-linen tables at Levain, which closed in South Minneapolis last new year’s eve. “I want to see them once a week. We want to see people come back over and over and over again.”
Brown said he employs the same principles of cooking at Harry’s that he did at Levain. “It’s just a different genre of food,” he said. The result is a selection of American classics, “contemporary comfort food” and a few more adventurous dishes, all bearing the seal of one of the Twin Cities’ more accomplished, creative chefs who, like you, sometimes wants a burger after a long day of work.
“We have a motto here,” said Brown: “Nothing’s fancy, everything’s tasty. There’s nothing frou-frou about anything here; you’re going to get what it is, put on a plate.”
Owners Dwight Bonewell and Adam Smith of WAS Partners opened the supper pub in mid-July in the former Nochee space at 500 Washington Ave. S. Harry’s takes advantage of the existing large outdoor patio, but the interior has been remodeled for a more open environment with a warm, wood décor. The expansive bar sits opposite the dining room, and the cozy booths are within eye, ear and — most importantly, smelling distance — from the open kitchen. Happy hour runs from 4–6 p.m., Monday–Friday, and Harry’s validates parking in the adjacent ramp, off Washington and Portland avenues.
Harry’s offers familiar fare like hamburgers, fries and a steak sandwich with cheese whiz, as well as sea scallops, grilled beef short ribs and pork ribs with Strongbow cider and course ground mustard.
The more adventurous items include Brown’s favorite, the pork belly:
uncured bacon, slow-roasted for 24 hours until it is “meltingly tender,” he said; then cut down, tempura fried, and served on top of lentils and greens that have been “perked up with sherry vinegar and a demi-glace of beef sauce,” said Brown, his keen food-sense showing through the talk of populist fare. “The lentils add an earthy element,” he said, “the escarole gives it a little backbone, and the vinegar cuts through the unctuousness of the pork belly itself.
So far, the crowd favorite has been the Harry’s cheeseburger, said Brown, with its secret sauce and “no condiments necessary.”
The BLT is “fall-out-of-bed simple,” he said, with iceberg lettuce, homemade mayonnaise, heirloom tomatoes and “really good bread from New French Bakery.” Many ingredients are locally grown and seasonal, like bacon made in southern Minnesota, heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn “straight from the market to the table.”
The Caesar salad is an example of a restaurant standard with Brown’s unique flair — it is served with a baby chicken, the romaine lettuce grilled along with the bird.
“My goal is to make food that is flavorful and delicious,” he said, “regardless of whether that’s foie gras cured in tequila and grapefruit or beef short ribs with brown sugar and garlic. They are two completely different results, but both of them are resoundingly delicious.”
Whether you’re looking for a surprise or a tasty staple, Harry’s is open for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m–10 p.m., Monday–Thursday and 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Friday and Saturday. They open at 4 p.m., for dinner only, on Sundays.
A grand opening celebration is tentatively set for Sept. 10, with a taste of Harry’s favorite fare — reportedly mini versions of the popular Harry’s burger — and a portion of the proceeds going to a charity, yet to be selected. For details, watch their website, www.harrysfood.com or call 612-344-7000.