Gators overrated, but menu has bite

November 09, 1995|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

Harry's Last Resort Cafe and Spirits has much to offer: a shiny new restaurant, pool tables, a "cappuccino cafe" that will open soon, backgammon, a huge bar and, of course, the alligators.

Frankly, the alligators were the biggest disappointment of the evening. I was imagining giant Florida swamp alligators, and these looked more like little lizards (although I couldn't see much -- the tanks are high up above the bar). And where are the animal rights people when you need them? Is a bar with contemporary music really the proper environment for an alligator?

But at least the kitchen isn't serving them up for dinner. Instead the menu is a mix of bar food, sandwiches, dinners and Creole and Cajun specialties. For those concerned about their weight, there's a separate "Work Out Menu," with nothing on it over 325 calories.

For instance, you could get broiled red snapper filet, fresh and not overcooked, with sauteed bell peppers and onions (260 calories, 3 grams of fat). Of course, you have to have the will power to stay away from the hot little rolls that come with it, and you mustn't order the delicious potatoes scalloped with lots of cheese. And you'd better not even think about having a chunky monkey for dessert -- a banana and chocolate confection with the consistency of cheesecake and more calories in it than the whole Work Out Menu put together.

Those of you who aren't watching your weight could order chicken Phoenix, purportedly the chef's favorite. It's a boneless chicken breast with a crunchy crumb coating, a couple of artichoke hearts and just a bit of a honey jalapeno glaze -- more would have been too much. (The coating on ours was too dark, just this side of burnt, but the white meat was still juicy.)

The Louisiana native I had with me was polite about her crawfish etouffe, but didn't attack it with the same abandon I've seen her approach other Creole food. She got more excited about the Creole-seasoned crab dip, creamy and full of crab.

A sampler of smoked trout, salmon and scallops that was a special that evening was generous enough for the three of us and modestly priced at $7. That was lucky because my baked oysters in a champagne beurre blanc had been baked so long they were shriveled up and stuck to the shell. You couldn't pry them loose with a fork.

Harry's Last Resort

2324 Boston St.

410) 563-1277

Hours: Open for lunch at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, open for dinner 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.

Credit cards: Major credit cards

Prices: Appetizers, $5-$9; entrees, $10-$18

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