The open-face steak sandwich at Harry’s is served on slices of garlic bread. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Dowdy decor was just one of the telling factors in the demise of Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright, and when it closed last January, and many thought that was the end of the institution that began 83 years earlier. And it was, sort of.
In its current, soft-opening phase, the restaurant now called simply “Harry’s” has been “reinvented” under new ownership, general manager Chris Christiano tells PieHole. But there are aspects here that haven’t changed at all.
Exposed cinderblock walls and ductwork, and TVs every few feet, give Harry’s a man-cave feel. Below, the Courtyard burger comes with hand-cut fries. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Redesigned and rebuilt inside and out, the Ocean Avenue space is an impressive mix of high-end meets industrial chic. Silvery ventwork gleams from the ceilings, while stone-gray cinderblock walls give the place a cavelike appearance.
Honed marble tops an oval bar that dominates the restaurant, seating 60. Additionally, there are another 21 reclaimed wood hightop tables in differing sizes. Every few feet there is a big screen TV.
Outside, a stone patio has been artfully landscaped with walled-in shrubbery and a bar with 12 beer Supplementing the 24 indoor taps, they’ll provide local craft beer as well as what Christiano calls the staples. There is also an impressive wine menu to choose from, and cocktails — including what we’re told is a killer bloody mary.
Currently offering a daily happy hour from noon to 6:30 p.m. and a limited lunch and bar menu, Christiano says the plan is to expand the menu for football games.
Though the menu is somewhat limited, don’t shed any tears for former owner Lou Jacoubs’ renowned lobster bisque. He can still be found cooking in the kitchen, and the bisque is still on the menu at — gulp — $25 for the bowlful.
We find the menu to be a little pricey, but in the end worth it. An open-face steak sandwich ($17) turned out to be sliced New York strip done perfectly medium rare, and served atop buttery garlic bread. It is the mouthwatering accomplishment of a classically trained, experienced chef.
A Courtyard burger ($13), also ordered medium rare, was tender, juicy and memorable. Impeccably fresh Jersey tomato slices were all this burger needs in the way of condiments. Both orders come with hand-cut steak fries that we wouldn’t hesitate to order as a bar snack on their own ($5); they were creamy inside and crispy outside.
Fried calamari, buffalo wings, classic crab cakes, mussels, and chicken parmesan served on a sandwich or on pasta round out the menu.
Harry’s Sea Bright is open seven days a week from noon to 1 a.m.