City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP

30 Restaurants in 30 Days: H. Harper Station

The Flor de Manzana: a cocktail that mixes tequila and calvados

The Flor de Manzana: a cocktail that mixes tequila and calvados

The owner of H. Harper Station, Jerry Slater, is one of our city’s great cocktailians. His bravura drinks list shifts easily from classics to new creations, and it makes you pause and consider each spirit. It’s like one of those Chinese menus where you want a lobster dish, a pork dish and a duck dish, except here you’re looking at tequila, gin and rum. I’ve liked some concoctions better than others, but I always stop and appreciate the sensibility of each. This “Flor de Manzana” made the case for mixing reposada tequila and the French apple brandy calvados with enough Punt e Mes and bitters to bring all the flavors into an intriguing dialogue.

In other words, schluuuurp.

The kitchen in this pretty old brick train building along Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown has faced the same problems that beset other ambitious cocktail-first establishments. It needs to provide the bites you crave with spirits — small, rich, indulgent — while making the case as a full-service restaurant.

IMG_7529My advice would be to go for whatever sounds companionable with the drink in your hand. Bread crisps topped with excellent pimento cheese and pickled cauliflower are easy to like, whether you’re nibbling one slowly or devouring three in quick succession.


The kitchen prepares terrific charcuterie, which changes daily. We thought the platter of house-cured ham, pâté de campagne and rabbit galantine showed great technique and sense of flavor. We ignored the bread and just ate the ham with our fingers. If I lived nearby, I’d be doing that every Friday evening.

My enthusiasm wanes a bit once I move past the snacks and starters to the Southern bistro restaurant dishes.

IMG_7532Mussels in a watery Sweetwater 420 beer broth with spongy cubes of sausage and flavor-drained okra lose our interest quickly. The vegetarian entree, listed on the menu, brought that dispirited collection of sides (including flavor-challenged asparagus) that vegetarians fear. We liked cornmeal-fried catfish but all the Southern stylings on the plate (unseasoned Hoppin’ John, over-seasoned collard greens, mustard BBQ sauce, Creole remoulade) never quite cohered into the messy goodness intended.

Despite the several talented chefs who’ve built this kitchen, I’m not sure H. Harper Station is ever destined to be a chef-driven restaurant. But as a cocktail bar, it’s nonpareil and should be considered a destination.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

14 comments Add your comment

FM Fats

July 25th, 2013
3:08 pm

I need to get a couple of friends together to try one of their punch bowls.


July 25th, 2013
3:49 pm

I’m always interested in trying places that are south of midtown, and I was into it until I got to the part about the cauliflower.
Cauliflower is disgusting.
I’m not saying it’s so 2011 (it was); I’m just saying it’s gross.
Any restaurant that serves cauliflower is under suspicion.
Any restaurant that mentions that disgusting lump of colorless garbage by name on its menu might as well shut their doors because they are doomed to fail.
In summary, cauliflower is for losers and sickos.

The Walrus

July 25th, 2013
4:25 pm

@Grandview – I defy you to go to Mezza on Lavista Rd and tell me their cauliflower is not one delicious dish!


July 25th, 2013
6:16 pm

Grandview……..glad Brussel Sprouts were not mentioned.


July 25th, 2013
11:59 pm

No one really cares what you think.

Kyle Hardwick

July 26th, 2013
4:20 am

Those looks Delicious!.

If you want to more recipes Check out this site You’ll find cooking basics, advanced techniques, detailed explanations, experimental flavor profiles, seasonal ingredients, some humor and desserts and other lots of desserts.


July 26th, 2013
7:27 am

Alice…….yes they do!!!


July 26th, 2013
10:20 am

Grandview must have had a traumatic early childhood incident with cauliflower. Colorless? Yes. Disgusting, garbage, gross? Nope.

Balti, I think Alice meant Grandview, but I’ve been wrong once or thrice in my life. ;-)


July 27th, 2013
8:54 am

While I tend to agree with the assessment of the dinner entrees, H. Harper has a brilliant brunch. Being that it isn’t the “trendy spot” for breakfast, crowds are often minimal, and the food itself is solid all around. I personally go for the Train Wreck, while my wife prefers the B.E.L.T.


July 27th, 2013
11:40 pm

This is one of my favorite places to drink. I’m with you, JK, in that I always stick to small plates there, and have always been happy. Oddly, @FMFats, as much as I have great things to say about the drinks (the manhattans, yikes, are fab) we didnt have as many great things to say about the punch bowls.


July 28th, 2013
6:09 pm

Obviously, poor Grandview never had the fried cauliflower at Pilgreen’s. Grandview should take his potato and go pontificate with it in the corner.

Girth Brooks

July 28th, 2013
9:16 pm

Posted Thursday, 7/25.

# of comments as of Sunday, 7/28 : 11

This whole paywall thing is working just fine.


July 29th, 2013
3:48 pm

They have a pretty solid burger also, but the garlic tots are a tad potent. But then, who really cares when the cocktails are so good?