Monday, September 3, 2012

Harry and Bud’s European Cuisine

I have a suggestion for which someone, I hope, will thank me: if you live within driving distance of the Queen City of the Wabash, aka Terre Haute, Indiana, make a reservation and visit Harry and Bud’s European Cuisine. Elaine and I visited two days ago and had a great meal and, better yet, a great adventure in hospitality.

Harry and Bud’s is a one-man operation: Jeffrey Marks is owner, chef, and server. The restaurant is located in a little unmarked building distinguished by two large glass-brick windows. From the outside the place looks dark and closed, but the windows fill the interior with natural light. (Surprise.) On the inside walls, a Denoyer-Geppert schoolroom map and a much older and larger map of Europe. The tables are the kitchen tables of my childhood: Formica tops and aluminum trim. I hadn’t sat at one in years.

There is no menu at Harry and Bud’s. Jeff knew from our telephone conversation that Elaine wanted something vegan. “Do you like lamb?” he asked me. Yes. We chose our water, sparkling and still, set up the house chessboard, and had time for one game before Jeff brought us onion soup, polenta, squash, tomatoes, greens, and, for me, a hefty serving of a chicken-and-eggplant hash. (I think it could be called a hash.) Along with these dishes, a loaf of great French bread. That was to start. What followed: kale and lentil salads, cabbage-leaf crepes (stuffed with corn, mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes, and covered in a garlic-and-tomato sauce), asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, gnocchi, mushroom caps, and, for non-vegan me, a cheddar and Gorgonzola torta, a wedge of Gouda, and the largest lamb chops I have ever seen, three of them, beautifully rare, seasoned in a Provençal manner (with, among many other flavors, the great and impossible-to-place flavor of lavender). For dessert, custard with a ganache and blackberries for me, blackberries and dark chocolate for Elaine.

I am no foodie: I feel awkward even recounting what we ate. I do so only to suggest what Harry and Bud’s offers in abundance and variety. The dishes we had were rustic, satisfying, and perfectly prepared. We are making three meals from our leftovers (which came with extra bread).

If you go to Harry and Bud’s, prepare for an intimate restaurant experience. (We were the only guests in the time we were there.) And trust that whatever comes from the kitchen will be great. Your trust will be rewarded. Study the website. Read Elaine’s account (with photographs of leftovers). Read the Yelp reviews if you want third and fourth and fifth opinions. Call. And go.

Other Terre Haute posts
The Clabber Girl Museum
John Gardner’s photographs
Saratoga Bar and Cafe

comments: 5

Pete said...

I had the "pleasure" of a week-long business trip to Paris, Illinois during the late 1980s. The nearest decent hotel was in Terre Haute, so I stayed there. The only restaurants I remember were Larry Bird's place (pretty awful, but at least you could shoot free throws on a regulation hoop in a glassed-in corner of the dining room) and Gerhardt's Bierstube, which was pretty good and is still in business.

I love that "Do you like lamb?" response. My wife was vegan when we first started dating, and while driving back from Champaign we stopped for dinner at a German place in Gibson City. The only thing vegan on the entire menu was the relish plate. I think we had two or three servings of that, plus beer of course.

Michael Leddy said...

There’s a good restaurant outside Paris, Andrew’s, though I’m not sure it was there in the ’80s.

I just looked at the Bayern Stube website, and their lunch menu now has a black bean burger. Who’da thunk it! Not clear though whether the burger and its roll are vegan.

Daughter Number Three said...

It makes me sad that I will probably never be in Terre Haute.

Elaine said...

Shoot. This means we missed our opportunity to see the Clabber Girl Museum AND eat a great dinner all those years ago when our son was spending 3 weeks at Rose-Hulman... and I must say, we think he was probably better off at the liberal arts school he went to versus an institute of technology...
the road not taken...
(He just relocated to California for his new job--great photo on my blog.)22

Michael Leddy said...

A few weeks ago I was watching a PBS show about breakfast places and regretting not being in Portland, Oregon. Oh well.

Elaine, even worse: you could’ve been in TH and never known about Harry and Bud’s. I saw the photo when you posted it — good job (as parent, I mean).