My experience with Rhode Island burgers is limited, to say the least. Aside from a brief stint for my undergrad many moons ago, I have not done extensive food research in our tiny neighboring state. On a whim a couple of weeks ago, we set off to Providence for an afternoon of bites and walking around the state’s capital. After doing a bit of on-the-fly research, we found our way out of the rain and into Harry’s Bar and Burger, supposedly one of the top burger destinations in Providence. A warm and welcoming staff made us feel accommodated immediately in this cozy casual bar setting. The burger menu is the clear highlight (as the name suggests) and they are made as sliders, with two per order and fries a la carte, with options aplenty.
I settled for the very straight-forward “Harry’s Classic Cheese,” which comes on toasted potato rolls, American cheese, grilled onion and pickle for $4.99. The burgers are definitely as advertised in the slider department, but we still have to examine it on the same basis for any sized burger, including but not limited to: meat to bun ratio, use of condiments, application of cheese, etc. The burgers, cooked on a griddle, are definitely big on bun but short on beef. The towering potato rolls are impeccably fresh, airy and squishy in the best of ways. But the beef, a very thin patty nestled into it all, almost gets lost in a sea of bread, lettuce and cheese. The beef has almost no crust to speak of, although it is adequately seasoned with salt and pepper. Melted American cheese combined with a healthy dose of a mayonnaise based spread certainly add a creaminess that is very enjoyable, and overall it actually is quite an enjoyable few bites. It is puzzling however, that for such a basic and primitive slider with barely any toppings on it, how quickly the beef goes missing on a moment’s notice. On it’s own the beef has pockets of flavor, not too lean or too fatty, but too generic and most likely less seasoned than what is ideal to make it stand out. It’s pretty juicy as far as sliders go, but just can’t hold a candle to a bigger sized patty. After the fact I realized that you can double the beef for an extra fee, which I would suggest based on my experience to presumably pump up the beef flavor. Fries are heavy, thin and sort of chewy and are dusted with salt and pepper for $2.25. They definitely don’t taste super fresh, giving the vibe that they were previously fried and very poorly re-heated, maybe I caught them on a bad day but the portion was small and they offered very little to almost no redeeming qualities.
The sliders at Harry’s Bar and Burger are satisfying if you aren’t one to over-focus on the beef. If you can be content to eat a couple of bites and enjoy them as a whole package and less of individual components, it’s an easy breezy endeavor. But for me, when the beef needs to be the major piece of the puzzle, it falls a little short. Still, for around $7 with fries, you essentially get a 1/4 burger that isn’t a bad deal at all, it’s just not exactly worth a trip from Boston to get there.
Overall Score: 76