Putting the Grease in Greasy Spoon

Harbor House in Dana Point CA — The Persnickety Patron

RATING SYSTEM: 1 star awarded in each of 5 categories:
Vibe, Food, Service, Tolerance,“It” Factor.
SCORE: 1 out of 5 Stars —because well, it had a nice decor.

Today I went to The Harbor House in sunny Dana Point CA on this bright and temperate Saturday afternoon. My buddy Jason recommended it and to my surprise I didn’t have to get persnickety at all. The eight page menu offers everything you could want in myriad combinations that I simply ordered my breakfast, ate my breakfast and left, for the most part satisfied. The Harbor House has a great atmosphere inside, like an old greasy spoon diner with wood paneling, celebrity photos and a sort of architectural charm about it. When we sat in our booth, I was feeling excited about this new place, and couldn’t decide what to get…8 pages of choices can overload even the most persnickety of us all. So I went with my old faithful for breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled, well done; side of bacon, crispy; rye toast, dry; and french fries instead of hash browns. This is when I realized that while the selection was large and the portions generous, Harbor House had taken the greasy part of “greasy spoon” way too seriously. My eggs were well done, but wet with butter. The bacon was crispy, but somehow still chewy and unbreakable in my mouth. The french fries were the bright spot of this meal, and ironically, even though they are deep fried, they were the only thing on my plate not dripping with grease. I took a swig of some Mr. Pibb, did a triple by-pass surgery on myself, and made a silent promise right then to by-pass this place next time. When somebody suggests we go to Harbor House, I’m going to have to remember that I’d rather eat at my own house instead.

One item on the menu worth mentioning though is the Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings. I know, they sound amazing, and if only that were why I brought them up, so you wouldn’t miss out. But, alas no, I bring them up simply as a warning: the name will grab you, and conceptually it’s a solid idea. I mean come on, almost anything wrapped in bacon is surely better than the original thing. That’s true for hotdogs, dates, hot pretzels, chicken bites, asperagus etc. But it’s simply not true of onion rings, at least not how they were executed here. They are in the style of those large breaded onion rings, which I usually like, and when they were dropped off at the table my mouth watered. But what soon became apparent was that these chewy soggy rings were weighed down by the bacon, not enhanced by it. And the bacon was so undercooked that I kept feeling like I was eating Babe, and that is just unsettling. If for some reason you end up at this wholly run-of-the-mill hole in the wall, you won’t have to change much about the menu to find something you like, but get ready for it to be the b-grade version of whatever that something happens to be.

I know I can be a bit persnickety, but this place won’t make a patron out of me.