Cafe fare and worldly ambience at Hutch and Harris pub

by Brian Clarey

According to the Hutch and Harris menu, this is how they serve roast beef in SoHo. (photo by Jill Clarey)

‘Just before noon, the sidewalk of a particular stretch of downtown Winston-Salem blooms into a well-peopled corridor of caf’ society, with dozens of chattering outdoor tables and water glasses beaded with condensation.

From this veritable garden grows Hutch and Harris Pub, a mainstay on the elbow-tipping circuit that has gained attention for its dignified space and reliable menu since its opening on Mardi Gras Day 2008.

The food could be described as “arthouse American provincial,” with thoughtful takes on populist standards sampled from widespread traditions, with some international accents that keep it interesting.

There are wings styled from the Buffalo, NY template; bean cakes from Catalina, Calif.; a burger pinched from Hamburger Charlie’s in Seymour, Wis.; a pasta pie from Fort Collins, Colo.; crab cakes redolent of the Chesapeake Bay.

North Carolina is amply represented as well: fried pickles (Mount Olive), pimiento-cheese pizza (Clemmons), shrimp salad (Ocean Isle) and Mr. Mac & Cheese (Winston-Salem), among others.

Lunch is served at a wrought-iron sidewalk table on the shaded thoroughfare, and on this day we’ve taken a culinary expedition. Rudy’s cream of crab soup, a staple in Corwnsville, Md., is hot and thick, with flavors of nutmeg and sherry playing across a generous cache of lump crabmeat.

The Bayaldi hails from the Turkish city of Istanbul: a pita stuffed with eggplant, crimini mushrooms, zucchini, olive tapenade, sun-dried tomato and melted chevre. It is messy, make no mistake, but also a satisfying vegetarian meal.

Also vegetarian: cauliflower mash, a side item with the look and consistency of mashed potatoes but with better carbs.

The fries — battered wedges with seasoning — are a Hutch and Harris original.

I have the rustic roast beef sandwich, which according to the menu originates from SoHo, the downtown neighborhood in New York City. It consists of fabulous sliced roasted beef steeped in natural broth, a cornfried pickle wedge and Creole mustard on a club roll.

It’s a strong sandwich, and one that satisfies the noontime pangs. Hutch and Harris also serves a vibrant dinner crowd, which begins to gather as the workday wanes. Heavier fare includes seafood from the Pacific Northwest, coastal California, Maryland and the Outer Banks. There are pasta dishes from Tuscany and Maine, Austrian weinerschnitzel and a ravioli straight out of Pfafftown, stuffed with chicken and walnuts and bedded in a sauce with pan-seared sea scallops. There is a New York strip and a German dish called rinderrouladen, a butterflied flank steak rolled with pickle and bacon, braised in beer and served with dumplings amid a stroganoff-style sauce — definitely one to check out on a future visit. And there is a Moravian chicken pie that can stand tall with any of the rest.

But dinner is another matter; for now we are ensconced in the latter half of lunch, finishing our drinks and picking at our plates, the downtown street scene playing out all around us. It will continue through siesta time, and then the air will cool and the bars will open. Nighttime caf’ society, culled from all four corners, will gather and form.

wanna go?

Hutch and Harris Pub 424 W.4 th St. Winston-Salem NC 27101