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Harrison's proves a tasty addition to Heights dining scene

| Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009

The Lunch Bunch liked Harrison's Grille, the new upscale restaurant in the Heights Shopping Plaza in Natrona Heights. The food was quite good, the decor quite nice and the service decent.

But, a few little things bothered us. One of which was having to pay $1 extra for a handful of fries. And we mean a handful -- a kid's handful.

Maybe it was because we hit Harrison's with great hopes. Higher-end restaurants are low in supply in the Valley and we looked forward to checking out the bill of fare.

But the bill of fare, especially for entrees, was a pricey one. We're on a budget here, so we had to say no to the $16 chicken, the $20 sea bass and the $23 rib-eye steak and stick to basic lunch orders.

We started with two appetizers, the Calamari ($8.95) and the Fried Zucchini ($5.95). Both were winners.

The fried calamari had a light coating and wasn't too chewy -- far too common for this dish. The chipotle mayo on the side was a great touch.

And we flat-out loved the zucchini, which was sliced in long ribbons, lightly breaded and fried to perfection. The great twist was that the zucchini was topped with a to-die-for asiago cheese. With a really tasty marinara on the side, it was among the best we've ever had.

From the green department, we couldn't pass up the Crab Cake Salad ($10.95), another rarity in the area. The crab cake was quite good -- not a lot of filler and it comes over mixed greens (thank you) with a sweet Thai chili dressing. We were quite pleased.

We ordered the Harrison's Burger ($6.95) It's a solid half-pounder with toppings including bacon, roasted red peppers and more. It's probably the best deal on the menu, but we asked for ours medium-well done and got well done. It had no juice and was dry. And here's another quibble. Cole slaw comes on the side. Our container had two tablespoons. It just didn't seem to be enough for us.

The Steak Wrap ($8.95) was yummy, with juicy beef, gorgonzola cheese, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion and mushrooms. But we found the beef chunks to be too large, and they were quickly gone, leaving one Buncher holding what amounted to a veggie wrap.

Packed with juicy pork, the Southern Style Pulled Pork Sandwich ($6.95) is served with, as the menu states, “East Carolina BBQ sauce.” For those who don't know, that means the sauce is vinegar based, not tomato based.

We finished with one of Harrison's signature pizzas, the Quatro Stagoni ($12.95). It's not much bigger than a personal pizza, with four slices of thin-crust dough and not a lot of cheese. Each slice has a different topping -- mussels, mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus. It was quite tasty, but, for that price, we expected more.

Aside from a few minor quibbles, we absolutely loved the food, and we see Harrison's potential to be a great addition to the local dining scene.

Compiled by Jeff Domenick, Carol Pinto-Smith, Charlie Ban and Doug Gulasy.

Meals are paid for by the Valley News Dispatch and are unrelated to advertising.

Additional Information:

Harrison's Grille

Address: 1840 Union Ave. (Heights Plaza Shopping Center), Natrona Heights

Phone: 724-226-3500

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays

Credit cards: All major cards accepted

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Prices: Appetizers, $5.95-$10.95; soups & salads, $3.95-$10.95; sandwiches, $6.95-$8.95; entrees, $14.95-23.95

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