Don’t be fooled by the attached Best Western hotel: Harold’s is a cool place. You’ll know it as soon as you walk in and are presented with your choice of sitting in the dining room or the lounge, known as the Bayonet Room. We chose the dining room, but the Bayonet Room would be a great place to hang out for happy hour; tin ceiling, wood panels and red leather upholstery offer a speakeasy vibe. The classic movies playing on big screens are a nice touch.
In the dining room, the atmosphere is about as classic as you get. The Rat Pack and Louis Armstrong set the mood. But the décor is where that classic vibe ends, because the menu is modern, even trendy. I spotted at least three things that showed up on January’s “food trends of 2013” lists (gourmet popcorn, preserves in cocktails and housemade sausages, to be exact).
I took advantage of the modern cocktail menu that clearly takes its inspiration from classic cocktails of the past. My barrel-aged cosmopolitan with Leopold Bros. cranberry liqueur instead of cranberry juice was excellent and made me wish I didn’t have to drive home from Longmont so that I could try another. I definitely hope to be back to taste more of the cocktail menu, maybe from a red leather booth in the Bayonet Room.
We started with a velvety French onion soup and the asparagus salad that was as much a delight to look at as it was to eat. The crisp-cooked asparagus dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette is paired with shaved Serrano ham, blue cheese dusted popcorn and a perfectly poached egg. For our second course, we had the “three interpretations of a deviled egg”: namely lobster, house-cured ham and chive and Thai chili, which, tasted in that order, got progressively better and more exciting.
The main course brought us bacon poached pork loin that practically melted in the mouth, served with a fennel gratin and ridiculously addictive purple cape beans with Swiss chard and bacon. We also had the “chicken three ways,” which turned out to be a five-spice treatment on the thigh, a spicy Southern fried drumstick and a jerk-style breast. The drumstick was golden-brown delicious, as a chef friend of mine would say, with quite a pleasant cayenne kick, but being so good, it overpowered the other two. It was served with a pretty carrot and sweet potato puree topped with red quinoa and mashed plantains, but I confess I was coveting my partner’s purple cape beans.
Dessert was a pumpkin crème brûlée that didn’t taste much like pumpkin, but was still a gorgeously rich custard with a thick sugar shell.
Overall, I was delighted with my experience. I’d recently dropped a Benjamin on a meal at a different place and came away wondering what I’d paid for. Here, everything was worth the price.