I visited Harrison's Sports Grill in search of something specific--namely, the BBQ brisket that I had heard so much about. I was even willing to forgo the brisket for any other barbecued meat they had on hand, but alas, there was none. Indeed, Harrison's food was somewhat of a disappointment.
It all began when I stopped by the place one day for a quickie. While sipping on my drink at the bar, some regulars started chatting me up. I was told of the history of the place (Harrison's used to be the Blue Grotto -- fondly remembered by many Miamians), which was then leased to someone else (resulting in the short-lived Heidi's), only to return to the family as Harrison's Sports Grill. I was then regaled with stories of Harrison's barbecue -- smoked on the premises, delicious, delectable, and necessary. Necessary may sound like the wrong word, but really it isn't. If you had heard these guys going on and on about the brisket, you'd understand.
Barbecue is one of my favorite foods. I die for savory, sweet, spicy sauces, and tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. When barbecue is done correctly -- before I get pornographic, let's just say it's hard to beat. So, after being told about the barbecue at Harrison's, I knew that I would have to return one day soon. Unfortunately, the day I chose to return there was some smoked fish as the special of the day and no barbecue, much less brisket in sight.
When I contemplated going elsewhere my companions began to look like the Donner party, so I immediately changed my mind. Utterly frustrated by this point, I asked the bartenders/servers what they recommended. I should interject here that Johnny and Bridget, the servers/bartenders on the both occasions I visited Harrison's, are friendly, attentive, and sweet. When it comes to suggestions though, they seem a little lost. It appears that they both think that everything on the menu is fantastic.
I started off with the clam chowder ($2.95 - $4.95). Harrison's doesn't prepare New England clam chowder in the traditional fashion. The broth was thin, not cloying, and there were several huge chunks of clam in addition to the small, diced, pieces. It was light and hearty at the same time, and there was a mild, pleasant peppery taste to it. Overall, a definite positive. I was starting to feel better about the fact that my much anticipated barbecue pig out had to be rescheduled.
Then came the Philly cheese steak ($7.95). Tender, flavorful meat, loaded onto a crusty hoagie roll with plenty of onions, peppers, mushrooms, and provolone cheese. With loaded cheese steak sandwiches, the quality or flavor of the cheese sometimes gets overlooked or overpowered, but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to taste the provolone among all the other ingredients. Aside from the fact that the Philly came with potato chips instead of fries or Cole slaw, the sandwich was another checkmark for Harrison's non-barbecue menu items.
Now, my girlfriend is used to the fact that I steal bites from her plate, but she was making it extremely difficult due to the illicit romance she was carrying on with the chili. Which just goes to show you, that love really is blind. While she found the chili so tasty that she ordered a bowl ($4.95) after finishing her cup ($2.95), I found the ground beef flavorless while the beans and sauce were over seasoned, and the entire mess too clumpy and concentrated. I also didn't appreciate the fact that cheese and onions cost extra. Cheese and onions should be included with any order of chili anywhere.
Our dining companions ordered the southwestern eggrolls ($6.95) and the Harrison's half-pound burger ($6.95). While I wasn't allowed to try the eggrolls (I told you--these people were hungry), I was told that they were really good and had a nice kick. The burger, which I had also heard rave reviews about, was overly greasy and otherwise inedible. The burger, like the Philly, also came with potato chips. Come on, I understand if you want people to pay additional for fries, but give them a non-potato side like Cole slaw or baked beans.
My companion actually asked the burger be exchanged for the grilled chicken breast sandwich ($7.95) and the chicken came back overcooked--paper dry and slightly charred. I was still hungry and ordered the fried shrimp, which came with....French fries. Go figure. The shrimp were huge and perfectly cooked, but the breading was extremely soggy to the point where it was falling off the shrimp. The shrimp came with cocktail sauce and sabi sauce--a kick ass, slightly spicy sauce that I had never before tried. Sabi sauce was also served with the egg rolls (the ones I hadn't gotten to try).
I guess I can call my experience at Harrison's pretty hit or miss, but from the food available during this experience, I definitely wouldn't go back. The service and atmosphere are so fantastic that I really hope the brisket stands up to its reputation. As I was leaving, yet another regular engaged me in conversation. Sherm asked me if I had tried the BBQ brisket. Ay Dios mio.
Harrison's Sports Grill
1674 SW 57 Ave., Miami
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