Text and Photos
By Shari Benyousky
Column Note: This is the 11th column in the Dives and Diners series in which a small group of Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club members and their guests road trip to explore the diners and dives of Kosciusko and the surrounding area.
MILFORD — For most of us, Milford means a pesky stoplight between Warsaw and Goshen. A “don’t-blink city” as Harry’s cook Steve Mottern described it. So, we nearly missed a treat — Harry’s Tap and Grill at 132 S. Main St. You don’t need to remember the address; just find the stoplight and go east until you find the block of Milford’s downtown strip.
As you’ve noticed, many of our locations don’t end up fitting the definition of Diners or Dives. But you guys like the column, so we keep checking out your recommendations. This recommendation came from Tina Carson. Tina was so enthusiastic about the food and the recent renovations at Harry’s that we invited her along as our wildcard. “Do I get a nickname?” Tina asked as she introduced herself around the table. “All of your guests get nicknames. I want one too!”
“Like what?” 1st Source Banker Paul Finley asked. “Describe your job.”
“I’m a customer service rep for The Papers. Hmm, I also help with my fiancée’s freight delivery business…” Her eyes lit up. “How about Bride-To-Be Tina? I’m getting married in two weeks.”
“Congratulations!” I told her as I chuckled at some of the signs hung on the walls. “Did you meet the lucky guy in Milford?”
Tina paused. “Yeah. Not so much. We are one of those met-on-line couples. I found him on eHarmony.” She blushed. “We even named our boat Sea-Harmony.”
REMAX Jeff Owen’s hands flew up like they do when a brilliant idea strikes him. “That’s it! We’ll call you Swipe-Right Tina.”
“If I had a dollar for every swipe right…!” Swipe-Right Tina shook her head ruefully. We settled in to view the menu and admire the renovations. Harry’s has a modern vibe with corrugated metal on the walls and lots of great signs giving solid advice.
At this point, our waitress Megan brought Diet Cokes and iced teas. I asked if I could take her picture. “Ooh, I don’t know.” She tried a pose and then another. “I’m camera awkward.” Megan gave excellent recommendations for food though. “Try the fried pickles. They have a new batter.”
REMAX Jeff admired her 1998 Rose Bowl Sweatshirt and requested, “Would you please delight us with an order of fried pickles with new batter, please? And how is it that you have a sweatshirt from 1998?”
Megan grinned. “It was my dad’s. See, I was born in 1998 after the Super Bowl.”
“Perhaps as a result of the celebration?” Inquired REMAX Jeff in his delicate way.
Banker Paul pulled out a mediation timer app on his phone and leaned over to Jeff. “Since you’ve taken over the conversation, the button on this side represents YOUR talking time. This other side is mine. So we get equal time.”
REMAX Jeff immediately pushed the app buttons. Banker Paul immediately pushed the other buttons. Pretty soon they were chortling, having completely forgotten Megan’s sweatshirt.
Megan shook her head. She hadn’t forgotten the question, and she patted her Rose Bowl Sweatshirt fondly. “I was born in November of 1998.”
Our fried pickles and pretzels with beer cheese arrived. “There are only three pretzels and four of us,” observed Banker Paul. “How should we cut them?”
“You could arm wrestle Swipe-Right-Tina,” I suggested, sneaking some of the fried pickle slices.
Tina stopped trying to figure out how to cut the pretzel sticks into the correct sizes. She held one over the table.
“Pull,” she ordered. “Like a wishbone. We’ll just see how it breaks.”
“I told you we were all dorks here,” I noted.
“Not me though,” REMAX Jeff held up his hands.
Our platters of food arrived and so did two more wildcards, Publisher and President of The Papers Inc Ron Baumgartner and Editor-in-Chief Deb Patterson who still had a lovely tan from her vacation somewhere tropical.
I tried a bite of my enormous fried fish sandwich and had to hold it with two hands to keep the onions and tomatoes and pickles together. Harry’s will put whatever you like on a sandwich. I like everything. If you don’t like the messy thing, REMAX Jeff’s sliders looked much more manageable.
“Ask Ron to tell his joke about the bull,” Swipe-Right-Tina suggested. “The one with the heifers and the peppermint. It’s funny.”
“What joke is that?” Inquired President Ron Baumgartner as he folded his tall frame into the chair and looked around. “Bull, did you say? Did this have to do with my father Archie?” President Ron’s massaged his knuckles. “I remember. No, I need to get the rough edges off that joke first.” He chuckled. “I do have an idea for it.” He looked around again. “I haven’t been in here since they remodeled. It’s quite nice.”
REMAX Jeff leaned over the table. “Not sure if I’m allowed to discuss this. Question about a competitor and all.
“But, I used to work at The Times Union downtown. Walked in there the other day to get some old newspapers, and I noticed the place doesn’t smell like printer’s ink anymore. The Editor told me they don’t print on-site anymore. YOU print the paper for them up here in Milford. Blew my mind!”
President Ron Baumgartner shook his head. “The times are changing for sure since I was a boy. You know my dad Archie bought the paper in 1939, so I’ve always been in the business. But news outlets need to work together to survive these days. We print The Times Union just like we print dozens of other publications for hundreds of clients.”
REMAX Jeff still shook his head. “Old Times Union Editor Reub Williams must be just turning over in his grave!”
President Ron just chuckled. At this point, Waitress Megan agreed to take pictures of the table. Editor-in-Chief Deb Patterson frowned. “I hate getting my picture taken. But why not? After all, I can choose not to print it, if I don’t like it, right?!” I hope she lets me keep this quote in.
We licked our plates. I needed multiple napkins to get clean as Chef Steve came out to shake our hands and make sure everything was perfect. It was. “We have prime rib on Saturday nights,” he told us. “Line out the door if you don’t have a reservation.” He paused for a picture. “I’d feel more comfortable behind the bar actually?”
“Who is Harry?” I asked as he got settled.
“Ah, yes. The owners, there are two couples who own Harry’s by the way, named it after their grandfather. Harry started It all.” Chef Steve smiled for the camera. “It’s almost our first-year anniversary actually.”
At this, Swipe-Right-Tina reluctantly pushed back from the table with a look down at President Ron. “I’d better get back before my boss fires me,” she chuckled. “Thanks for the invite!”
“No, thank YOU!” we chorused back.
Harry’s is a gem. Stop at that stoplight in Milford and check it out soon so it stays around for a second anniversary. You might even get lucky and be able to buy a drink for some reporters or columnists or publishers.
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