Harding’s is one of the few restaurants that I have written up in Manhattan Digest where second time is truly the charm. My first experience there was two years ago when I devoured their amazing brunch options for me to enjoy. This time around, it was all things dinner at this colorful and fun Flatiron location, which treated me to a variety of their upscale American fare. I left feeling happy, satisfied, and more.
Seeing as we are at the tail end of an insane election season, it is fitting that Harding’s pairs the “American” theme throughout. Outside of the rectangular bar that is instantly noticeable upon the entrance to Harding’s, you are then struck by the image of a huge American flag that adorns the left wall of the location. Located a quick block and a half walk from the 6 train on East 21st between Broadway and Park, Harding’s really does a great duality of pre-party or after work cocktails to enjoy with your friends and at the same time provides a spacious and inviting atmosphere to enjoy a relaxing dinner for a date, group dinner, or more.
Harding’s prides itself on being local, as the beer, wine and liquor are all sourced right here in America. On top of that, their menu is diverse in its execution, flavor techniques, unique styles and so much more that it left for a very enjoyable finish upon me leaving the restaurant last night. That being said, here are the dishes that I definitely recommend you trying out.
Seeing as we are in the middle of fall, it is always good to start your evening off with a tasty soup to really warm you up (even though we are still experiencing some Indian Summer weather outside). With that being said, their Roasted Tomato Soup with a Cheddar Cheese Crouton smack dab in the middle of it is a great, warm and hearty choice to begin your meal. It could use a little bit more salt and pepper, but that might just be a personal choice. Nevertheless, it did its job and started the meal off very well for me.
For appetizers, the two that I recommend are a bit opposite yet still do its job in starting your meal off right. I am a big sucker for meatballs, and quite frankly have never had a bad one in my 30 years of existence. Their Veal & Ricotta Meatballs, served in a cast iron skillet with late tomato ragu & shaved local pecorino, really did the trick. They were warm, cooked very well and not too tenderly to where the meat can dry itself out, and paired well with the tomato and pecorino.
For their table share options, which can still be a technical appetizers to a certain degree, I would highly recommend their Charcuterie selections, which come with American-made cured meats, pickled vegetables, whole grain mustard and grilled peasant bread. It was sort of those math equations that could have multiple results, and each type of layer that I made on top of the warm and amazing peasant bread tasted better than the last. This is a great and sharable option to try with the friends you are with.
If you are interested in a salad of sorts, one that wouldn’t strike you as a traditional salad but still packs a ton of flavor is Harding’s Warm Octopus & Potato Salad, with grilled octopus, baby new potatoes, hard-boiled egg and lemon vinaigrette. I have been having a lot of octopus lately with the restaurants I have reviewed, yet their version really sang to me as it mixed very well with the other ingredients. I would’ve never thought of having octopus in any sort of potato salad, but this definitely worked.
Harding’s mains run the muck in terms of the best of the best in short rib, pasta, pork chops and fish options but I opted for their Farm Raised Chicken instead, and was thrilled with the result. The chicken’s skin had whole grain mustard all throughout, and came with sugar snap peas, artichokes and parsnips. When you pair the perfectly cooked chicken with the incredibly fresh vegetables, and deliciously textured skin, it makes for a flawless main course. Easily my favorite meal of the night.
If you still have room for dessert, and you should no matter what, their Griddle Cake with maple syrup and Moonshine Ice Cream is the perfect finish to a great meal. Consider this to be the dessert pancake of your dreams. Overall, Harding’s provided an amazing atmosphere, warm service, and a wonderful meal that I would go back for time and time again.
For more information on Harding’s, check out their official site.