WINE DINE & FOOTLIGHTS
|Carnivores flock to Harding’s for one of the best burgers in NYC.|
When the folks at Harding’s invited me to stop in and check out their new brunch menu, I couldn’t refuse. Despite what the NY Times wrote recently in the article “Brunch is for Jerks,” I thought I’d take my chances at the risk of coming off as another youngish, conforming Gothamite. Because the truth is, I like brunch now and then.
My brunch is more about the food than anything, and a cocktail or two is likely. Sometimes I get eggs, sometimes something else, but rarely, if ever, would I feast on a burger in the early noon hours. When I perused the menu before the train ride to the Flatiron District, however, something told me I had to make an exception and include this carnivorous plate in my brunch fête, accompanied by an egg dish, of course. And while I was at it, I’d throw in a salad for good measure. Now on to those drinks.
Harding’s brunch cocktails are reasonably priced at $11, especially since they’re on the large side. Michael chose the Classic Bloody Mary, while I went with the Hannah Van Buren (blueberry, apple juice, and sparkling brut). Both drinks were tasty, and despite the fruitiness of mine, it was not too sweet. Mike tends to like his Bloody Mary spicy, so our server brought some extra horseradish. A teaspoon or two added just enough zest to the already savory glass.
|Harding’s is known for its cocktails.|
We shared the Apple Farro Salad (mixed greens, kale, farro, green apple, aged cheddar, walnuts, and sherry vinaigrette). A hearty portion with the right amount of crunch and texture, this dish could easily be a meal in itself. I thoroughly enjoyed this bowl, and the healthful ingredients lowered the guilt factor a smidge.
|The Apple Farro Salad|
We decided to share the Burger (house ground Angus chuck and short rib blend, white American cheese, hand-cut fries), and the Santa Cruz (Monterey jack scrambled eggs, black beans, lime crème fraîche, avocado, fresh cilantro, green market garden salsa). The egg dish is not a combination scramble, but rather separate components on the plate, which I like better. This is a terrific, colorful brunch option, packed with flavor and the best black beans I’ve eaten anywhere. The eggs could’ve used a touch more salt, but I tend to like my eggs on the saltier side.
|Colorful Santa Cruz|
|What a burger!|
Now, more on the burger. I am always on the quest for the “best” burger, and I’ve had a few in NYC that I really love (and lust after), and this one is now at the top of my list. Oddly, we rarely if ever order cheese on our burgers because we tend to be purists. But the cheese complemented and didn’t take anything away from the rich, juicy taste of the meat. This was one of the most perfectly cooked burgers I’ve eaten in recent history. (Why can no one cook a medium-rare hamburger in this town?) I might add that these are REAL hand-cut fries, and amazing with the burger and warmed in the oven a day later.
|I thought I had died and gone to burger heaven.|
I also want to mention the beautiful selection of croissants, danish and muffins baked in house. These are absolutely decadent! I had to find a little space in my stomach to take a bite of each. Just know this. Don’t skip the pastry.
|Whatever you do, leave space for these.|
Harding’s space is large by NYC standards. With tall ceilings, hefty columns, a mezzanine level, and rustic, Americana decor that can easily be adapted or enhanced for a special occasion, the restaurant is ideal to accommodate events like weddings and private parties.
And although I’ve yet to eat Harding’s dinner, the menu looks enticing with dishes I’d love to try like the Warm Octopus and Potato Salad, Grilled Whole Atlantic Branzini with White Beans, and Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil and Shaved Domestic Grana. I’m not sure I’d venture away from what’s flawless and familiar, however. If I head to Harding’s for supper, I think a second burger is in my future.
32 E 21st St
New York, NY 10010