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New York Home > Food > The Hard Way

Published November 09, 2012

The Hard Way
An American History Book in Restaurant Form

Today’s subject is Harding’s. It’s in Flatiron. Just opened.

It’s the kind of brass-sconced echo chamber where vital mid-19th-century US treaties would have been signed. Then all the signatories would have sat down to pan-roasted scallops and hanger steaks. Theirs wouldn’t have been prepared by a former Acme chef. Yours will.

Options abound, so let’s do this in order of ambition...

If you want cocktails: pull up one of those brocaded Georgian chairs near the entrance and talk federalism or something. More than your conversation, it’s really important that you try the gin fizz or the bourbon/apple-liqueur concoction.

Ah, so dinner’s what you’re after: procure one of the white-lace-clothed tables. Try the pumpkin pie soup. It’s pumpkin pie soup. Play some I Spy. There are Civil War–era bullets lodged in the walls (the design discussions got heated). There’s a 117-year-old woolen flag. Vintage front pages about the moon landing are on the walls. There’s an early lingerie accessory somewhere. America, right?

You need more: okay, reserve the Den. Reserve its century-and-a-half-old seating and perpetually filled decanter of American whiskey. Bring a justice league or some kind of holiday-based band of revelers. Because if you’ve got the Den, you’ve also got that mezzanine you were eyeing when you walked into the place. That’ll be your dining room.

You just manifest destinied a restaurant.
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