First Impressions: Harold’s Meat + Three

harolds-meat-and-three-entranceBack story: Chef Harold Moore, known for his (closed) West Village restaurant Commerce, has opened an all-day restaurant in the new Arlo hotel. It’s called a meat-and-three after the Southern cafeteria style, where you choose a main dish and a trio of sides.

harolds-meat-and-three-dining-roomThe vibe: Harold’s is very handsome, with none of the kitsch that “meat-and-three” calls to mind. The dining room is large, with a bar running down the middle of the room, and natural light comes in from two sides, thanks to the Arlo’s courtyard. Tables are widely spaced, but I suspect the place will get loud at night, what with the hard surfaces, open kitchen, communal table, and trio of six-to-eight-tops. Harold’s appears to be trying to walk the high-low line: On one hand, in the dining room there’s a salad bar and a glass-door refrigerator filled with meat; on the other hand, the cocktail bar has those silver nut dishes you see in old-school hotels. (What’s with the pepper shakers on tables, though? Pepper mills, people!) The whole room smells appealingly like barbecue.

harolds-meat-and-three-barMenu: There are two menus, one for lunch/brunch, and one for dinner. (Neither is online, and there isn’t really a website.) The idea is that you choose one main—which are not all priced the same—and you get to pick three sides. Dinner has many more options, including a variety of sauces and a handful of appetizers. The salad bar pricing is mysterious: At lunch, it’s $11 if partnered with a meal and $16 if not; at dinner, it’s less and more expensive ($10/$17). And dessert—coconut cake or birthday cake—is only available at night. I went twice for lunch; the first time, I had the “5 sides as entrée,” and the second time I had an omelette.

harolds-meat-and-three-lunch-and-brunch-menuharolds-meat-and-three-dinner-menuGold star: The room, definitely. And my second lunch was legitimately good: a perfectly prepared omelette (none of that mix-it-and-flip-it crap) with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and scallions; crispy-buttery-salty slices of potato; and a wonderful salad of equal parts herbs and greens. At $14, it was a good deal, although I wouldn’t have minded the option of toast or dessert. Watching Dogpound clients doing walking lunges across the street works up an appetite.

harolds-meat-and-three-omeletteharolds-meat-and-three-dining-room2Room for improvement: I only went back a second time because my first meal was one of the worst values I’ve experienced in a restaurant, and I wanted to give Harold’s a fair shake. I didn’t ask a lot of questions before ordering the five sides—French fries (actually steak fries, which I don’t normally like but these were OK), broccoli rice casserole, crushed cauliflower, sautéed spinach, and twice-baked avocado—or I would’ve chosen differently. The broccoli and cauliflower dishes were indistinguishable, tasting not of vegetables but of the goopy sauce. And the twice-baked (half-)avocado is stuffed with mashed potato; the bland-on-bland result serves neither ingredient well. In fact, everything but the spinach was bland, which is par for the course at an actual meat-and-three but harder to swallow when the cost of the meal, for food alone, was $31. Moreover, the portions were tiny, as you can see below. Small food had better be good, or at least interesting.

That first lunch was in the front half of the room, on a banquette abutting the bar. The shelves above the bar are open, which is pretty, but I’m not sure the designer realized that patrons will be able to hear everything going on behind the bar (staff conversations, the sink running, and so on), and the A/C vent blew right through the shelves and onto my back. Also, I think I was sitting on a subwoofer. You really notice the bass in “Miss You” when it’s tickling your nether regions. On my second visit, I sat along the restaurant’s back wall, which I much preferred.

harolds-meat-and-three-five-sidesAnything else? Harold’s will probably be popular with families—the concept is great for kids and other picky eaters—but there’s no kid’s menu yet. Takeout is available, but not delivery.

Contact: Harold’s Meat + Three is in the Arlo hotel, but it has its own entrance at 2 Renwick (you can also enter via the hotel); 212-390-8484;

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  1. Have been to Harolds twice for dinner and once for breakfast. Each time the food was very good and definitely a value considering other neighborhood options. I think it’s worth mentioning that their salad bar has several proteins on it that can be considered main courses. So while the pricing is confusing, it is a real bargain in my opinion. Last time i was there the salad bar had prime rib carpaccio, baked salmon, country pate and chicken galantine in addition to your normal salad bar fare.

    • I’m glad to hear it—I think the “5 sides” might just have been an unfortunate choice (and it really shouldn’t be $29), and that Harold’s is priced better for people who want to eat some animal.

      As for the salad bar (or “continental buffet,” as one server called it), I was talking with a person in the industry about it, and he marveled at how the restaurant could possibly cover the food costs related to it. He wondered how long the upmarket meat/fish options would be on there.

      • I thought exactly the same things in regards to food cost. They have a lot of expensive items like the proteins, cheeses, pates, nuts, chicken liver mousse, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the selection decrease in the near future. Especially if hotel guest have any part of their meal subsidized. I hope it doesn’t as i think it’s currently one of the best deals in northern tribeca.

  2. The name is certainly disturbing. For cannibals, perhaps?