Since the Harrison opened in 2001, just after 9/11, several big names have run the kitchen, most recently Amanda Freitag, who joined in 2007. She put a more Italian, less French-ified twist on the menu, a ploy clearly designed to pull in Frank Bruni for a re-review. It worked: the man awarded two stars.
Not that the Harrison needed a lot of help. It was a hit practically from the beginning, and it’s a hit still. It seems to be consistently full. Both Freitag and partner Jimmy Bradley keep themselves in the public eye, and no doubt this is good for business.
We’ve dined at the Harrison twice before (reviews here & here), but both pre-dated Freitag’s tenure. We were overdue for a re-visit. We won’t be rushing back. Our meal was a bust, with both appetizers and entrées disappointing.
Prices are lower than I remembered them, but perhaps the Harrison, like many places, has dialed them down. The current top entrée is $34, the current top appetizer $14—both a couple of dollars less than they were in the Bruni review. Most entrées are $25 or less.
An octopus appetizer ($14; above right) came with a sweet tomato and cucumber salad, but it was overwhelmed with celery. Lamb Cripinettes ($12; above right) were over-cooked, and dry.
Calf’s Liver ($22; above left) was too slimey, and the log-shaped pieces into which it was sliced resembled an unappetizing scatological object. Potatoes puréed to the consistency of baby food and dull mustard greens were not much better.
Fluke ($27; above right) was torpedoed by a butter-lemon sauce that was too watery, leaving the fish a soggy mess.
To the restaurant’s credit, the server noticed that I had barely touched the liver. It did not appear on the bill, and the kitchen sent out an eclair (right) as partial recompense.
The room, always crowded, is fine for what it is, but it was never especially inviting. The service remains top-notch for a “casual-plus” kind of place.
For those who care about such things: we cannot assign a rating to the Harrison. We gave it two stars after our last visit (under another chef), but this visit would get zero. We suspect the Harrison is not quite this bad. Rather than assuming that, we will leave it with no rating at all.
The Harrison (355 Greenwich Street at Harrison Street, TriBeCa)