Get your pig fix at Harman's Eat & Drink, now open in Cherry Creek
All photos by Lori Midson.
Chef John Little calls them "truffled pork rinds." I call them pig crack. But it doesn't really matter what you call them -- what matters is that you don't go anywhere near my share, otherwise the mud will fly.
I liked Phat Thai, Mark Fischer's Cherry Creek offshoot of the original Phat Thai in Carbondale (the goat curry, in particular, was sensational), but a few weeks ago, after considerable thought, Fischer shuttered the Cherry Creek location and reopened it yesterday as Harman's Eat & Drink, and it's quite easily one of those places where I could park my butt on a bar stool and never leave. And that, says Little, is precisely what Harman's, named for Edwin P. Harman, who, in the late 1880s purchased what was then a 320-acre town site, is aiming for. "We want to be a fun neighborhood restaurant -- the kind of place that you can go to two or three nights a week," says Little.
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And his menu, which certainly pimps the pig, is the kind of food that I could eat every night: braised goat tostadas; housemade agnolotti floating in a carrot broth bobbing with English peas and roasted radishes; porchetta; those truffled pork rinds; and a magnificent dessert that combines marinated blueberries, cake batter ice cream, pork rinds dusted with cinnamon and sugar and pork belly, so crispy that it shatters like glass. Fischer, who patterned Harman's after the Pullman, a restaurant he owns in Glenwood Springs, describes the food as "approachable, personal, made with integrity and super-tasty," all of which I would agree with after sampling several dishes this afternoon.
And the changes that he's made to the interior -- painting the walls rooster red, replacing the crescent-shaped booths in the bar that doubled as a divider between the bar and dining room with a curved, twenty-seat community table, and updating the banquettes in the dining room -- make the setting feel far more airy and urban. The community table, says Fischer, is a "common thread in all of our restaurants. I love the idea of people sharing the table, and I think that eating should be social."
Chad Steig, a bartender and manager at all of Fischer's restaurants, the mini empire of which also includes Town in Carbondale, worked through the night to paint the walls, one of which is lettered with the words "bacon,"local," "forager," and "umami" -- all of which go hand-and-hand with Fischer's philosophies. And Fischer says that over the next few months, Steig will "finish tagging the walls with words and shit that are thoughtful and deliberate." Pig crack?
The next few months will bring other changes, too, including tasting dinners at the eight-seat chef's counter that peers into the open kitchen. "It'll be a collaborative menu from all the cooks with probably seven courses that we'll pair with beer, wine or cocktails, and we'll have one seating every night and just do some fun, crazy, weird things," says Lewis, adding that the dinners will be linked to ingredient themes -- tomatoes, for instance.
In the meantime, Harman's is open from 11 a.m. to close Monday through Saturday and from 5 p.m. to close on Sunday. Brunch, says Fischer, will begin on Sunday, July 14, and while the hours haven't been cemented, Fischer hints that it'll be an all-day affair.
To see what Fischer did with space, take a look through the photos on the following pages, which also include food and drink porn.