Words + Photography by Luke Alland, using Leica's Q2 Reporter.
Harry's Bar holds a number of wonderful memories for myself as well as the rest of The Accessible Magazine team. It's an Italian staple that successfully manages to transfer its mystique and chic within Italy, to London and New York.
The original Harry's Bar now has cult status amongst the culinary, hospitality and, oddly enough, menswear communities, partly down to the casual, camaraderie-fuelled origin story. In the late 1920s, Harry Pickering, a wealthy young American, was a regular patron of the Hotel Europa in Venice. Giuseppe Cipriani was a bartender at the time. One day, Pickering stopped showing up for his usual tipple. As it turned out, it was rumoured that his family had found out about his drinking habit and cut him off. Cipriani lent him 10,000 lire to prop him up and, two years later, Pickering returned to the Hotel Europa with 50,000 lire which he gave to Cipriani. The additional 40,000 was enough to open a bar—and that's exactly what they did.
The London equivalent has of course not just taken the name for inspiration, but also the Italian heart that runs through everything they do. Opened in 1979 as a private members' club, it became the go-to place for anyone who was anyone. Being compared to the waiting lounge for Concorde can seem to be a bit of a dig, but I think it's actually quite the compliment.
The interior of the James Street restaurant is surprisingly welcoming, even with the dimly-lit furnishings. There's an inherently warm colour palette, and I don't just mean the upholstery. Even the artwork and photography adorning the walls makes it feel like it's been lived in rather than worked in.
It's quite easy for restaurants to fall foul of trying to create an ambience through a kitschy-harking-back-to-a-more-rose-tinted time, however, I think Harry's is anything but that. It's timeless. Not only might you feel as if you've been transported back a few years, it strangely also doesn't feel out of place in this day and age. Whether or not that's down to the rather lively '70s revival currently taking place in London I'm not sure, but either way I am absolutely here for it.
The menu is stacked, and regardless of which Italian delight you go for, its always going to hit the spot. We couldn't resist the Truffle Arancini and the Calamari Fritti to start. The Bistecca di Manzo will forever be a classic, as well as Harry's Veal Parmesan. It's not often I go for veal, but when you know it's going to be off the dial, you've got to have a flutter, don't you.
Dessert is a little bit of a sensitive topic for me. Having turned down a tiramisu in Florence in favour for a fruit salad at a post-Pitti Uomo dinner, in front of about ten of my very close friends, I now have an obligation (or perhaps mental block is a slightly more apt term?) to ignore anything else on the menu when given the chance. It's a tiramisu righting-of-wrongs-type situation. Needless to say, tiramisu is tiramisu—it's very hard to go wrong. The Fondente al Cioccolato con Pistachio also came highly recommended. But so does almost anything with pistachio—it's just the best isn't it?
All in all, it's an experience you wont regret and all I can hope for is that you order the tiramisu, not a fruit salad.