Tipping the scale

Harrison’s is a Tipp City tradition

By Paula Johnson

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

The value of tradition is that it’s something that’s known and handed down through generations. That’s its comfort and its strength. The downside of tradition is that there’s nothing new being invented; there are no surprises.

And “traditional” is the word that applies to the cuisine at Harrison’s, a beloved local destination in Tipp City. From the potato skins to the burgers and wraps, there’s not much new under the sun here. No wine list to speak of and a limited selection of beer, this is not a place to try the latest IPA or craft cocktail. But that’s not all bad—as we discovered with our dinner selections.

Slow start

If something’s noted as a signature item it’s probably a good idea to order it. It’s the thing that’s most popular and what the kitchen is noted for. In the case of the White Turkey Chili with Homemade Corn Muffin ($3.99) I am not sure why it earned this designation. The chili itself was thick and pasty and lacked any depth of flavor. It had no meaty taste or spicy notes to speak of. The accompanying muffin was more like cake—overly sweet, lacking that slightly gritty graininess of good cornbread.

I also chose the Cheesy Scallop Bake ($8.99), an unusual offering from the usual bar style suspects on the appetizer menu. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much more successful than the chili. Though the bay scallops were sweet and not overcooked to rubberiness, they benefitted little from the thin sauce. The main problem was the overpoweringly strong taste of the green onions. However, the pita toasts served with them were quite good.

The salads were up next, unremarkable with standard institutional dressing. We hoped for better for the upcoming entrees, and this was where Harrison’s did a fair job of redeeming its lackluster beginning.

Angus anyone?

A lot of Harrison’s menu focuses on Certified Angus Beef and Slow Smoked Dry Rub BBQ, under the menu heading “From our Pit and Broiler Masters.”

Just what is Certified Angus Beef? The American Angus Association set up the “Certified Angus Beef” (CAB) brand in 1978, with the goal of promoting Angus beef as higher quality than beef from other breeds of cattle. Cattle are eligible for “Certified Angus Beef” if they meet all 10 of the industry standard criteria to enhance the meat’s look, flavor and texture consistency.

So generally a CAB steak is pretty good. However, the menu’s claim, “A cut above USDA Prime, Choice or Select” is a bit misleading. Those designations are not industry marketing terms. They are government standard grades based on tenderness, juiciness and flavor. So a CAB steak can be and most often is also Choice or Prime.

Strip tip

And how was the Certified Angus Beef Strip Steak with Onion Straws ($25.50)? PIP decided to order it blackened with Cajun seasonings (at an additional $1.50 charge). It arrived done medium rare, as ordered. The texture was fine—not tough or gristly. As to the flavor, the blackening really took over making it a bit difficult to judge, but overall not a bad choice. I’d recommend trying it without the seasonings to better gauge the taste. The AuGratin potato side dish was a disappointment. Much better was the generous side of macaroni and cheese, which came with my dinner choice of a 1/2 Rack of Smoked Ribs and Fried Clams Platter ($27).

Harrison’s menu also offers a design-your-own platter option which allows choosing from a selection of smoked BBQ meats and a few other choices, including chicken, salmon and shrimp. Since smoked, dry rubbed BBQ is one of the dishes it’s known for, I couldn’t pass up the ribs. Tender and sweet with a mild BBQ sauce, there was a nice element of smokiness to them.

Clamming up

A crispy heap of large tender clam strips rounded out my platter. They were batter dipped and deep fried, not at all greasy or chewy, and quite tasty. A spicy horseradish cocktail sauce accompanied the clams for dipping. They are also available as a solo entree at $13.49.

Sweet ending

We ended with a Fudge Nut Ball ($5.49), shared between the two of us. BBQ, steak, macaroni and cheese, iceberg lettuce and ice cream pretty much makes up a typical traditional American restaurant dinner. No surprises, and not all bad. It’s probably safe to say Harrison’s is a Tipp City tradition that will continue for a while.

Harrison’s is located at 106 E. Main St. in Tipp City. For more information, please call 937.667.5200 or visit harrisonsrestaurant.com.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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