Monday, October 5, 2009

HARRY & JEANS

Saturday night we traveled out to Canfield to hear one of my favorite musicians play at a place called Harry & Jeans. The purpose was to hear Joe Augustine play jazz piano, which is something he does with flair and style. My friend Bev and I were lucky enough to encounter Joe here in Akron last year at the Stage Door for an evening with his trio. We were totally smitten with him and found that he plays weekly at this restaurant in Canfield (of all places!). It’s been in the back of my mind all summer to get over there to hear him, but summer has managed to slip by pretty quickly and it just didn’t happen. I finally set a date, rounded up some of the gals and we headed east on Saturday evening.

First of all, who thinks of Canfield as a destination for anything other than the Canfield fair? Or the swap meet my Dad used to attend every spring for old car enthusiasts where they traipsed around in the mud for hours to dig through old car parts and accessories? I used to work out in that area and 15 years ago there just wasn’t much in Canfield. I was certainly surprised to see that it’s managed to become one of those ubiquitous suburban strip mall mecca’s containing every chain restaurant known to northeast Ohio.

Tucked away behind the Bob Evans and across from a tiny strip plaza is a little southern restaurant called Harry & Jeans. Based in Rock Hill South Carolina, the original restaurant serves up southern hospitality and great food wrapped around a traditional Jazz Piano Bar. Somehow their second location wound up in Canfield, Ohio. The connection is lost on me, but I am certainly glad it’s there!

From the outside the place looks so-so, but inside is a surprisingly comfortable looking place divided into a large dining-only room with big, plush banquettes and candlelight. The other side is the piano bar with a few large tables, a full bar and a very cozy seating area filled with oversized leather and plush fabric couches and chairs. We ate dinner seated at a table and then moved to spend another hour seated by the piano sipping our after dinner drinks.

Reviews warned us that the service was slow and we definitely found this to be the case. From trying to get seated to finally getting our check, it was a two hour process. However, since we were prepared for this, it just turned into a nice laid-back event.

The food was very good. Friends ordered the Lobster Bisque at the suggestion of the server and although it didn’t look anything as either had expected, they both said it was excellent. My salad with the house dressing was also quite good. On the table was a bowl of Portuguese corn bread that we shared – it was truly a cross between a sourdough and a sweet corn bread and was almost addicting. As usual, by the time my salad is eaten, a glass of wine has been sipped and some bread consumed, I was nearly too full for my meal when it arrived. However, I was extremely happy when my filet arrived cozied up to a pool of creamy cauliflower au gratin and a whip of Bourbon Blaze Butter. Yum! The steak was tender and juicy and the butter sauce was an excellent topping, defiantly something I’ll attempt to recreate at home. The cauliflower had bits of bacon and scallions throughout giv ing it a smoky, onion-y bite with the cheese and (what can be) the blandness of the cauliflower. Excellent!

Even the wine was terrific. I had a Parker Station Pinot Noir. Parker Station is the vineyard of Fess Parker, the guy that played Disney’s Davy Crockett in the 1950’s and 60’s. The wine was fruity with just a hint of oak and paired very well with my meal overall. It was good enough that when I stumbled over a bottle at World Market the next day I bought one to enjoy at home with the leftover filet stashed in the fridge for dinner tomorrow night!

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