Bar Food?

Chicken wings, Buffalo or otherwise. Chili with or without (fill in your own blank here). Ribs, reubens, fries, rings, BLTs. Anyone who’s spent more than 10 minutes in a bar can rattle off a list without effort. Like bottled beer and bar maids, bar foods are almost universal. Or so you’d think.

Harry’s Bar is in a class by itself, a legend.  The original is in Venice, on the Calle Vallaresso, and for over fifty years,  imageshas been the place to be seen for some of the world’s most famous and powerful people.  Onassis, Hemingway, Burton, Windsor, Crawford – the list goes on and on.  It’s the home of the Bellini, a concoction of peach nectar and champagne, and what is considered to be the world’s driest Martini, the Montgomery, named by Hemingway himself.

It’s also known for its exceptional food menu. From sandwiches that are legendary, to its famous line up of risottos and pastas, Harry’s bar food is anything but typical.

While looking for a twist on the filet mignon for a dinner party entree, I came across my copy of  “The Harry’s Bar Cookbook” written by Arrigo Cipriani, the son of the founder, Giuseppe, who invented this classic dish in 1950.

Serves 6 as a main course
3 pounds boned shell steak, to yield 1 1/2 pounds after trimming
3/4C home made mayonnaise
1-2t Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1t fresh lemon juice
2-3T milk
salt to taste
fresh ground white pepper to taste

To make the sauce, put the mayonnaise in a bowl and whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Whisk in enough milk to make a thin sauce that just coats the back of a wooden spoon. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as necessary with some salt and pepper and more Worcestershire/lemon juice. Chill until ready to use.

Trim off every bit of fat, sinew and gristle from the boned shell. leaving a small cylinder of tender meat. Chill the meat well but do not freeze. Using a razor sharp knife, slice the meat paper-thin. Arrange the slices of meat on 6 cold salad plates to cover the surface completely. Drizzle the sauce over the meat in a decorative ribbon pattern; serve immediately.

I’m thinking about seafood as an entree now. I found the perfect appetizer.

NB: If you can’t find boned shell of beef, you can use high quality beef fillet. It won’t be as flavorful but it will be easier to work with. Ask your butcher to slice it, but only if you intend on serving it within an hour or so, otherwise, slice it yourself.

Entrance pic courtesy of
Carpaccio pic courtesy of

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved, 2009

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