Harding’s: Flatiron’s Hard Hitting All-American Fare

by Alex R. Travers

If you’ve recently passed by 32 East 21st Street you may have slowed to do a double-take: Why are there pictures of America’s founding fathers covering what was once the glass façade of Southern cooking’s gem Gravy? Harding’s, Flatirons newest “ elevated American fare” restaurant, is the answer.

Like Gravy, Harding’s reaches back to the past – but now to a 19th-century America. Designer Libbey Gillette along with new partners Ryan Nivakoff, Spencer Slaine, and Justin Finn earn points for their incredible attention to detail in creating their vision. The dark maple wood used to craft the spacious 40-seat bar was handpicked from good ol’ Bucks County, PA. Civil War bullets are embedded into the walls and furniture throughout the 150-seat restaurant. Even antebellum potato sacks double as cushion covers for the banquet seating in the front. It’s boldly imagined and vibrantly nostalgic of the era.

And so is the cuisine. Envisioned by Acme alum Ariel Fox, dishes like steak and potatoes, pumpkin pie soup, and Rockefeller oysters dot the menu. Chef Fox is a perfectionist who prides herself on the quality of time she has spent in professional kitchens. If you’re attracted to seafood, her brook trout (grilled whole with little carrots, dill, and brown butter vinaigrette) is deliciously fresh. For carnivores, try the artfully seared burger. It’s a houseground angus chuck and shortrib blend with caved aged cheddar cheese, homemade pickles, and handcut fries that wholly fulfills. After all, what could be more American?

I similarly admire the cocktail menu, which delivers rocket’s-red-glare punches. There’s a cordial (they have five in total that change seasonally) called “Number One” that expertly mixes Old Forrester Bourbon with cider, simple syrup, and apple spiced liquor. Order it and you’ll be humming “Yankee Doodle” in no time! The rest of the beverage program, which consists entirely of American-sourced liquor, beer, and wine, complements the menu wonderfully.

We’ve all heard the phrase “keep it simple.” Harding’s not only lives by these words, their attention to detail and comfort food craftmenship do exactly what you want restaurants to do: cook simple food to perfection.

To visit Harding’s website, click here.

For reservations, visit opentable.com or call 212-600-2105.

Photographs by Michael Covino.