Serendipity was at play in even selecting The Harrison, located in the heart of Tribeca. Simply by its name, it sounded elegant, yet warm and inviting. The Harrison didn’t disappoint.
Arriving early, I situated myself at the bar, fumbled nervously with the menu and ordered a tried and true bourbon and coke from the convivial bartender. I positioned myself so I could see out of the windows, wondering if she looked the same, or how life had changed her. A few sips into the stiff drink, I saw a shock of blonde hair atop that staple in every girl’s closet, the little black dress, and knew instantly it was her. I crossed the bar and met her at the front door. Had it really been ten years?
We began with small talk, but quickly turned to more important topics about life, love and happiness. As a formality, every couple of minutes we broke our weighty talk, perused the menu and asked for guidance, which the bartender happily offered, emphasizing for our entrees that we simply must have the salmon and the lamb.
The Harrison features an 85-seat dining room that is open and bustling, the focal point being the 20-foot long hand-rubbed black walnut bar. None of that mattered as we melted into our seats at the bar and simply got lost. The warm amber and yellow hues from overhead chandeliers, coupled with the walnut wood made it feel more like home than a restaurant and were it not for the audible chatter of the weekend diners, I could’ve sworn we were alone. We were both jarred back to reality as the hostess asked if we were ready to be seated on the patio.
We chose both the octopus and the soft shell crab appetizers, sharing each by reaching across the table, offering little forkfuls, like a couple at junior prom. A small slap on the wrist, however, for the lack of inventiveness in the bread service. And sigh, I do love bread. Words almost failed me when we saw our entrees. My gorgeous partner in dining crime ordered the salmon, which was flaky and rich, served crusted in horseradish, with a small offering of red mustard greens and a simple, yet effective broth. The lamb was such a large serving that I thought they’d brought me a steak by mistake. I confess that this was the only moment of the entire evening that I was enamored with something other than my long lost flame. Also descending on our table, a side of orzo, which I overlooked completely in favor of my entrée and samplings of the salmon, fed to me. How sweet! The orzo was a giant portion…perfect for a twosome. Served truffled with broccolini and pecorino romano, making it thick, rich and I dare say, sexy.
Both wanting a little more, we opted to share a slice of the ‘birthday’ cake for dessert. Changing weekly, this was a chocolate layer cake with brown butter icing. Served with a decorative flourish of chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries, this sort of sin should be illegal. Instead of birthday cake, I’m calling it anniversary cake. Why? Well, because ten years is a long time and that sort of reconnection is deserving of its own date on the calendar.
A warm evening on the patio was almost more Californian than New York, a pleasant surprise after the day’s rain. Our conversation continued, sometimes serious, often light and flirtatious, picking up where we’d left off so many years before. Food can always draw people together, and most certainly offers opportunities to get a little closer. I only hope we can recreate this perfect night when she comes to visit me in California. Until then, I’m going to read Love in the Time of Cholera and listen to Nick Drake.
INFO: October marks The Harrison’s 8th anniversary. As the season’s change, so will executive chef Amanda’s Freitag’s menu. I, for one, can’t wait to return.
The Harrision. 355 Greenwich Street. New York, NY. 212-274.9310