Yes when I think of Harry's Hofbrau, whether it be their San Jose location (my favorite) off of Saratoga Road or their old school, been there forever Redwood City location off of Woodside Road on El Camino Real, I think Oh-My-God-This-Is-So-Good-Yum! (Sorry, "nom nom nom" just doesn't cut it.)
What I like the most about Harry's Hofbrau is of course their massive menu of food. Turkey, baked hams, roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, pork loin, a variety of Harry's Carvery Sandwiches, gravy, real mashed potatoes, stuffing, salads, soups, pies and plenty of sodas, beers, wines and water to drink. What's not to love?
Yesterday's trip was my first ever to their Redwood City location, as the San Jose restaurant was closed for Thanksgiving. I went in anticipating long lines and long waits, but it wasn't bad at all. By my count the time spent in line was no more than 15 minutes. I caught up with the news on my blackberry and took in the interior to pass the time. Everyone was relaxed and friendly and the smell of mouthwatering turkey was everywhere.
For Thanksgiving, Harry's pared down their menu. For $16.95 you got your choice of two dinners, either turkey (light and dark meat) or ham. With the dinner comes your choice of hearty steamed sliced carrots or green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple or pumpkin pie and a tall glass of soda, iced tea or coffee. Drink refills are free.
I opted to sit at the bar and watch the game. Now here's the cool part: the people behind the bar are old school. I.e., they've been working at Harry's for a long time and they're very serious about taking good care of you. I did not once have to ask for my soda or water glasses to be refilled. Either Pam or Ema were always one step ahead of me, filling my glass up before I could think to ask. They also have real whipped cream behind the bar. When it came time for me to start on the pumpkin pie, Ema was right there asking me if I wanted whipped cream on it. AWESOME!
While at the bar I had the chance to talk with a Redwood City local who was playing hooky from his sister (he was supposed to be in Half Moon Bay for Thanksgiving Dinner but fibbed and said he was sick). Between this guy and Ema I learned a whole bunch about the history of this particular Harry's location.
They talked about people who used to work at Harry's as though it were yesterday. There's a picture up on the wall next to the serving line of a man (whose name I failed to note) that worked for sixty two years at Harry's. Sixty two years! The picture is right next an autographed picture of the cast from the Wizard of Oz.
So the guy next to me and Ema (who has been there since the early 1970s) talked about the guy in the picture and numerous other people who were either employees or regulars there. That was fun to listen to.
My conversation with the guy shifted to the history of the place. I learned that at one point there was a meat market attached to the same building as the restaurant and run by restaurant owners, that would sell whole sides of meet to the public. Because it was so cold they had coats at the ready for customers when they came inside.
Also the section of the restaurant where I sat that contains the bar and extra seating used to be a separate establishment called "The Question", which was a gay bar.
When Harry's took over, they redid the bar, put in mirrored glass (the guy who I sat next to is the one who put the mirrored glass in; he also insisted it be two pieces per section and not one whole piece), the etched image of an eagle in the center glass of the bar and so on. I also learned that in memory of the gay bar the company who redid the parking stripes outside initially painted them in pink and left some crude jokes about Harry on the asphault in pink as well.
Ultimately I couldn't finish my meal so I took the rest of it to go. That's when Penny introduced herself and Ema to me. How cool is that?
As I walked out of Harry's, I left with more than just enough food for a late dinner. I left with a great impression of Harry's Hofbrau in Redwood City and a kind of comfortable feeling about the place, like I already knew everyone and felt certain they'd both remember me and be happy to see me when I came back.
And of course I can't wait to go back!