Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Harp

(216) 939-0200

4408 Detroit Ave Map.c03a5d6
Cleveland, OH 44113

It’s hard to just get a burger these days.  I mean, it seems like every burger in town has a pretty predictable set of ingredients:
  • Grass-fed beef;
  • Aged, locally-sourced cheddar cheese;
  • Smoked applewood bacon;
  • Some variety of cured onions;
  • Heirloom tomatoes and organic lettuce;
  • Artisinal roll. 
Seriously, go into any “foodie” place, the kind of restaurant where bloggers take pictures of their food with DSLR cameras that they leave on Auto, and see how many of these you can tick off.  It’s likely that the menu will mention each of these items, and the waiter will, if well-trained, emphasize them in his sales speech.  We’re in a sort of Cold War-style burger race now, and the only advantages to be gained are in incremental variations – organic poppyseed rolls, or specialty onions, or restaurant-grown produce, or if the chef brought the cow to your table before slaughtering it and grinding up its meat, perhaps leaving the ear on your table as a trophy. 
So it’s nice to see a place ignore these Burger Wars and just grill beef, put it together, and trust that it will be fine.  The operative word there is “grill.”  The burger at the Harp was fine – it was disassembled so I could add all of the produce and condiments I desired.  Actually, come to think of it, that’s the first time in a while where the restaurant didn’t assume that they knew best how to make the most delicious burger and that I would love whatever they put together.  It was a good burger – the bread soaked up beef juices, the produce was fresh, the cheese was tasty.  What set it apart, though, was the last few bites: on one of the ends of the clearly hand-formed patty was a charred bit, still touched with flame. 
And that’s what restaurants have forgotten.  In their quest to make the most special burger with the most special tastes, they lost the idea that a burger starts out with flame applied to flesh, and that this alchemy still matters to consumers.  The Harp hasn’t forgotten, though, and that’s why their burgers, prepared in the traditional manner, are suddenly special and have suddenly won the Burger Wars.  
 The Harp on Urbanspoon

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