Review of the Popular Diner on a Well-traveled Jersey Shore Route
The Harrison House Diner & Restaurant is a popular stopping point for travelers on the way to the Jersey Shore as well as for local residents. This quality, affordable diner offers many tasty dishes in a family-friendly atmosphere.
The Harrison House Diner & Restaurant is a long-popular eating place in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. Its prime location at the intersection of Routes 45 and 322 makes it a frequent stop for people traveling from the Philadelphia area to the Jersey Shore in the summertime. However, the reliable food and reasonable prices make it worth a visit year-round by locals and travelers alike. While not every dish succeeds, there are enough solid, dependable choices on the Harrison House menu to satisfy most appetites.
The Harrison House Diner has been at its current location in Mullica Hill since 1985, but its history actually dates all the way back to the 1960s. Constantinos Benas originally established a food service business over 50 years ago, and today his son George and grandson Constantine are the owners of the Harrison House Diner. The diner building was originally a Swingle Diner located in nearby Glassboro, New Jersey, but was later moved to Mullica Hill where it received an exterior facelift. The interior, however, maintains a classic diner feel with comfortable booths, beige colors, and a long counter. The room is bright, clean, and inviting and the atmosphere more than a little nostalgic. Televisions overhead near the counter play at low volume, usually showcasing local sports events like Phillies games. At lunchtime, the restaurant is typically packed with seniors, families and nearby office workers on lunchbreak. The scene is usually quieter in the evening, as the diner closes at 11:00 pm.
The Harrison House menu features many diner classic selections. Of course, breakfast is served all day, and their lunch menu is offered until late: 8:00 pm on Monday – Thursday, and until 6:00 pm on Friday. Dinner selections include all of the typical favorites such as Baked Meat Loaf ($11.25), Chicken Croquettes ($10.95), Veal Parmigiana ($16.95), and Broiled Stuffed Flounder ($16.95), all served with soup or dinner salad, two vegetables or pasta, and fresh baked bread. Salads Specials are big enough to make a meal – or two – and one of the best is their Spinach Salad ($8.95) served in a tortilla bowl. The spinach is always extremely fresh and dressed with fresh roast turkey, ample bacon, tomato and hard boiled egg in a warm bacon dressing. Also excellent is the Nicoise Salad ($8.50) which can be supplemented with one of their outstanding crab cakes for $4.00 extra. Their crab cakes are some of the best from the area’s diners, heavy on the crabmeat, light on the filling, and broiled, not fried.
Hot sandwiches also stand out and satisfy. The grilled chicken breast sandwich ($7.95) is very simple, and extremely good. An ample and tender chicken breast is served with lettuce, tomato, and thin-sliced onion, with mayo on the side and cheese on request. Also good is their take on the Reuben ($.7.95), offered both as a regular sandwich or a wrap. Sandwiches come with fries, cole slaw and a pickle, all of which are of decent quality although I prefer the fries and cole slaw at the nearby Hollywood Cafe diner. One of the dishes the Harrison House is known for is their Flounder Francaise ($17.50), which features several large filets of flounder dipped in egg batter, sauted in butter and finished with white wine. It’s a tasty, if heavy dish, as are most of the sauteed specialties.
The Harrison House Diner doesn’t quite measure up on some of their Italian specialties. A Veal Marsala special just didn’t taste quite right – I was not impressed by the quality of the veal. Cheese Ravioli with Meatballs ($11.95) suffered from an inferior, strangely flavored tomato sauce. I would avoid any of the dishes from their Italian selections based on my experiences with these two disappointing meals. Their standard house salad ($3.50, or free with any dinner entree) is acceptable but nothing outstanding, and often the soup du jour is a better choice with your meal.
If you’ve somehow saved room for dessert, there are many house-made pies and cakes to choose from daily. The Harrison House Diner & Restaurant is a family-friendly restaurant, with no alcohol served. Service is generally warm and efficient, and over many visits I have only had one order come out incorrectly (a regular sandwich when I had ordered a wrap.) Open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., the Harrison House Diner is overall a great choice for a satisfying, reasonably-priced meal and to enjoy the classic diner experience.
This review was originally published September 17, 2010 at Yahoo! Contributors Network.