Lunch at Harpin’s in Payne City a gourmet experience

November 23, 2012 

Don’t be fooled by the simple decor. Harpin’s is a gourmet experience.

The restaurant, which is known for its homemade sandwiches, soups and desserts, will not disappoint.

Harpin’s is run by longtime Macon chef Paul Harpin and his wife, Hazel Harpin. The two opened the restaurant in 2005 in the heart of Payne City.

To the casual diner, there is no indication that Paul Harpin, who moved to Macon from England in 1974, has a storied history of cooking that includes a brief stint as Mick Jagger’s personal chef. Locally, he cooked at Paul’s Bistro, LeBistro, Leo’s and Capers before opening Harpin’s.

Harpin’s describes its style as “British, creperies and vegetarian” and offers a mostly standing lunch menu of chicken salad, egg salad and typical deli choices. This is supplemented by crepes, quiches and daily specials.

Most of the sandwiches come with a choice of chips, pasta salad or house salad and the crepes and quiche came with a choice of soup or salad.

A friend described the menu as a “nice variety, nothing complicated or overdone.” The menu is simple but the flavors are complex.

Harpin’s is primarily a lunch place but they do serve dinner on the second and third Fridays of every month. They also host private parties and provide catering.

On a recent visit, the brisket sandwich on toasted sourdough was a special and it was scrumptious. The meat was perfectly cooked -- tender without being chewy.

The pimento cheese also was delicious and the chicken salad is purported to be some of the best. I’ll have to save that for another visit.

I’d be remiss not to mention the bread. It is not homemade but is some of the best I’ve had at a lunch place. The Harpins have said it is Pepperidge Farm, but I think they must add a little something special to it to make it so yummy.

The chicken and spinach crepe was a huge hit with a fresh but creamy taste. I had trouble not licking the plate.

One of the biggest compliments all around was regarding the portion sizes. It is perfect for lunch and a friend described it as not leaving you overstuffed or unsatisfied -- a delicate balance.

The exception to portion size is the desserts -- the slices of cake are more than generous. A friend described it as perfect for splurging or sharing.

We tried the lemon cake and it was divine. We all agreed it was not too heavy and a nice mix of sweet and sour. I will definitely be back to try some of the other homemade goodies.

The soup was described as tasty and hearty. The lobster bisque was on the heavy, creamy side, but that is probably to be expected. The other sides are average with the exception of the salad, which had beautiful, farm-fresh looking tomatoes in November.

There is no kids menu, but the restaurant offers kid friendly sandwiches, chips and fresh fruit. The staff also went out of the way to make sure our youngest was having an enjoyable lunch.

It is no wonder the restaurant was nominated this year by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce and Macon Economic Development Commission as Small Business of the Year. All in all, Harpin’s is a solid choice for lunch.

Harpin’s

Address: 3378 Brookdale Ave., Macon

Phone: (478) 742-5252

Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 6-9 p.m. the second and third Fridays of each month

Payment: Cash, credit or debit

Smoking: No

Alcohol: No

Kids Menu: No

Noise Level: Low

Health Rating: 100

Price range: $4.49 and up

Rating: 3 and a half stars

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