I've been to Harlow's on several occasions, and the experience has uniformly been the same. Wonderful location, great concept, great decor, and the absolute worst restaurant food I've ever had.
Sharing the same building with a multplex theater means the crowd at Harlow's comes and goes in waves. You can tell when a show starts because the place will go from absolutely packed with no seats available to 2/3 empty in about 5 min. This must place extraordinary demands on the staff and the kitchen.
The staff meets these demands well. On each of my visits they have been charming, polite, attentive, and hustling their behinds off. I was extremely impressed by my waiter on my last visit, as he was very aware that our dinner would be cut short by our movie starting, and he made sure that the food came out to us quickly and on time.
As for the food, I recommend that you save yourself the time and money and just order directly from the Sysco Industrial Frozen Food catalog yourself. It seems that the way the kitchen deals with the stress of having to have a large number of meals out in a very short time is by simply assembling re-heated pre-made frozen food, rather than doing any actual cooking. On a visit I had last year, the cheese pizza was not just clearly frozen pizza, it wasn't even good quality frozen pizza. If there was any real cheese on that pizza, in amongst the as Calcium caseinate and partially hydrongenated soybean oil, I didn't taste it. It was the worst restaurant meal I have ever had, hands down.
I visited again last night we got the "Split an appetizer, two entrees, split a dessert, and get two movie tickets for $42.55" special Our appetizer consisted of stale tortilla chips with cheese dip. I had a burger, which was made up of a dry, pre-made, previously frozen patty, some sort of chewy roll, and some token produce. It literally did not rise to the level of McDonalds Angus Delux. Sadly it wasn't even close. For dessert we got a thin but large slice of a "four layer chocolate cake" that was actually pretty good. The surprise came when I discovered that yes our appetizer, two entrees, cake and movie passes had cost $42.50, but our two ice teas had been $5.00 each!
On a side note, the place has grossly inadequate restrooms. They are not gross, quite the contrary, the restroom was spotless during my visit there. I had a great deal of time to notice just how clean the restroom is, as the men's room had only two toilets and two urinals, for not just the adjacent gameroom but also a restaurant and bar that seats a couple of hundred people. One of the toilet stalls was occupied by a man wearing socks with sandals who actually got (and took) a cell phone call while he was in there, (stating that he was still in the bathroom and his friends should meet him somewhere). Whatever the guy in the other stall was doing I don't know, but it didn't involve him getting off the pot. After about 10 min. pure hydraulic pressure forced me to find another restroom, and I was able to use the restroom in the theater. On the other hand my daughter was able to visit the ladies room with no problem.
I am really disappointed at Harlows. I love the name, I love the concept. I love the decor. It SHOULD work, and if the food were to rise to the level of The Village Inn or IHOP I think it would. Their front of the house staff is uniformly great, and the place is always clean. There is some problem with the fact it tries to be a bar while it's location dictates that there will be a lot of teenagers there on first dates, and families with small children. Still the extraordinary staff handles this very well. I can't say enough good things about the staff. I sat near a party of 4 excited teenage girls who were later joined by a pair of somewhat shy teenage boys. The waitress checked to see if the boys wanted to order anything, and even though the boys didn't order anything, the waitress was polite, let the group linger till the movie started, and just provided first class service all around, despite the fact that teens are not known to be great tippers. I was very impressed, as the restaurant was totally slammed full at the time. The staff is great.
The food though is simply the worst I've ever paid to eat. I can honestly say I have had better meals in Army Mess Halls and at fast food joints. I understand the time pressures, but considering what you pay for it, they should do better.
I strongly recommend you save some money and visit the strip center next door for a meal that is not only less expensive, but not premade, frozen, and stuffed full of preservatives.
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