The chef walks us through the menu, from bone marrow pudding to fried apple pie.
In his two-stage takeover of the Harpoon Harry kitchen, chef (or "culinary curator" as his PR department dizzyingly describes him) Morgan McGlone first re-launched the downstairs public bar with devilled eggs, cornmeal Johnny cakes and clams casino while the more formal upstairs dining room took shape.
Tonight, the dining room opens with a menu that's not short of richness. Inspired by his time cooking at Husk in Nashville, though, McGlone says there's more to Southern cooking than heft. "I didn't want it to be super-heavy American fare; I wanted it to have some sort of refinement. That's what Husk was all about," he says. "They bring the high echelon of Southern food, but with a big hug, too. My approach here is similar - inviting but light."
So, for all the fried apple pie and St Louis pork ribs on the menu, there's also a focus on Southern-style greens and vegetables. McGlone has enlisted Noma Australia local forager Elijah Holland to propagate collard greens - a loose-leaf brassica similar to kale, and a staple of Southern US cuisine - for him in the Blue Mountains. He's particularly excited about the gourds, cooked over embers and served with brassicas and a mix of quinoa, wild rice and spelt grains. Cornmeal-crusted ling is similarly paired with dark leafy greens braised in dark beer and pork stock.
Back to the meat. McGlone has a kurobuta pork chop with five-hour cabbage and a sweet and sour sauce. There's a steak dinner for two, complete with sides and sauces, and beef tartare with smoked oyster and parsley, plus lamb rump and flat-iron. To top all that protein off there's always bone marrow pudding. "It's one part bone marrow, one part brioche," says McGlone. "We mix it with oregano and Microplaned garlic, and bake it in the oven for nine minutes until it puffs up." It sounds like something to perhaps put to one side if you're about to squeeze yourself into anything body-con. "But it really isn't", says the chef. "It's just unctuous, like a big hug. I wanted to focus on what everyone loves, and everyone loves bone marrow."
Desserts, on the other hand, were not inspired by Husk, but rather one of America's other well-known names - McDonald's. "The hot apple pie is the best thing McDonald's has," says McGlone. "We take apples, peel them, stew them down and keep some whole. They're mixed with a little five-spice and cinnamon and fill a hot pocket of pastry. The lard puffs out and gets really crisp with this beautiful hot filling." At around this point in the night, the Bourbon trolley will rattle up to your table. Now's the time for a nip of the extremely limited Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. "We're really lucky - Australia doesn't get much of it," says McGlone. "I'm told there are only 72 bottles per year in the whole country. It's just beautiful Bourbon. You can definitely taste the difference between that and Jim Beam."
Harpoon Harry's Dining Room opens on Wednesday 20 April at 6pm. Level 1, 40-44 Wentworth Ave, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 8262 8800, hotelharry.com.au