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Restaurant Review: Harry's Plaza Cafe
updated: Feb 16, 2013, 12:00 PM
By Lauren Bray
This week Lauren reviews Harry's Plaza Café using her super fancy Edhat rating scale.
Harry's Plaza Cafe
3313-B State Street
Avg Entrée Price: $20
Needs a lot of work.
Harry's Plaza Cafe is a staple of Santa Barbara. A mainstay of the Loreto Plaza, it houses historical
photos and red vinyl booths, with a kitschy steak and potatoes ambiance. This was a place I frequented
in college looking for a stiff drink out of the Isla Vistan debauchery, but not too close to the downtown
club douchery. I liked the atmosphere, I liked the locals, and I liked the frickles (fried pickles). However, this
was quite a few years ago and I hadn't been back since.
My partner in crime and I walk into Harry's on an early Sunday evening. The place is crowded, just as I
remembered it. The cooks to the left of the entrance, are frantically pushing out plates of food. I witnessed
the head chef yelling at servers through their little window, just like Chef Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen. I
immediately thought the food must be fantastic if he's that passionate to yell about it.
We walked by the bar and were seated across from the movie poster Bolero, featuring a young Bo Derek
riding a horse bareback, so… lucky us? Other than that oddity, there were photos surrounding us of
State Street and the Mission from the olden days. Right behind us was an oldie of the Arlington Hotel. It
really got me thinking about the history of Harry's and Loreto Plaza all together. (Neal Graffy can you
help a girl out?)
Reviewing the menu, my partner and I decided to order two different main entrees and taste test each
one. We ordered the shrimp scampi and the ground sirloin, both specials of the night. The menu
reminded me of my grandmother's ranch styled cooking of BBQ'd tri-tip, baked beans and garlic bread.
I was expecting a similar type of meal with no frills or fancy french sauces, just good simple food.
To sum it up gently, the shrimp was drowning in more oil than butter, the majority of the
rice was hard and crunchy, and the vegetables weren't bad but tasted like they were frozen from the Green
Giant. Surely a meat dish would taste better, right? Well no, the ground sirloin was overcooked and dry,
the mashed potatoes were gritty, and the veggies were again… ho ho ho Green Giant.
I contemplated sending the food back but I wasn't confident that I'd get anything better. I grew up in an
"eat or starve" household where I'd receive a round of applause for clearing my plate. "Waste not want
not," reverberated through my head, but I'm sorry grandma I just couldn't finish this food.
Disappointed, we begrudgingly asked the waiter to bring our check. With the server station next to
our table, we had the pleasure of hearing the waitresses make fun of their customers. The experience at
Harry's altogether left a sour taste in my mouth, and also my stomach later that evening.
Harry's, you owe me a bottle of Pepto Bismol or some free drinks.
Lauren is a member of the Dedicated Edhat Staff and is currently working on a non-food related novel.
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