Home 231 is a quality choice for pandemic-era takeout
By Phantom Diner
As restaurants reopen with limited capacity amid the ongoing pandemic, the wait for widespread vaccinations and uncertainty regarding virus variants, there remains good reason for takeout dining.
With that in mind, and while looking forward to the day full dine-in service returns, allow me to suggest takeout dinner from a long-time Harrisburg favorite of mine.
Home 231, on North Street between Second and Third streets, has been a city staple for a decade, and rightly so. It is consistent in providing a diverse and changing menu, with a something-for-everyone set of selections, served up by a staff that is always informed, helpful and attentive.
I’ll confess, I’ve never been a big fan of the plain, dullish tables-and-booths interior of this smallish restaurant, save for the cozy bar just inside the door.
The problem is the place, in normal times, is almost always busy, the tables are too close together, the booths aren’t exactly the lap of comfort and the noise level often is distracting.
Then again, folks who love good food don’t choose where to eat based on décor. And Home has a lovely back patio, perfect for a warm-weather evening meal or Sunday brunch.
In addition, Home deserves big credit for its performance during this challenging time for its industry. It established outdoor dining in an adjacent parking lot with umbrellas in good weather and with heaters and other cover when temperatures dropped.
The key, though, is maintaining food quality, which Home has done perfectly.
As of this writing, and for my most recent experience there, Home, thankfully, was offering its full menu for takeout.
This includes “For the Table” items: a cured meat board of salami, crostini, candied nuts and mustard ($15); a roasted veggie board of brussels sprouts, hummus, carrots, red pepper, pickled veggies, portabella and crostini ($14); and a cheese board of local cheeses, honey comb, seasonal jam, candied nuts and crostini ($15).
Then there are “Shares,” which, honestly, I never want to share. They change, but when I ordered last, included devil eggs, chicken wings, eggplant meatballs, beef carpaccio, pigs in a blanket, creole arancini and grilled octopus. The selection is always creative, and priced from $9 to $14.
These are really small plates that, in some cases, aren’t that small. I made a meal, for example, out of the octopus, which was perfectly grilled with lemon and fingerling potatoes, and the arancini, wonderful fried rice balls, stuffed with shrimp and lobster risotto and creole spices.
Those two dishes and a shared grilled radicchio salad ($12) with arugula, apple, fennel and honey mustard, offered a great blend of flavors, and plenty of food.
My takeout dining partner chose one of the entrees, or “Mains:” Home’s excellent Maryland crab cakes with sweet corn, spinach and butter squash ($34). It’s a dish that always a great choice at Home.
There is soup, usually tomato bisque with basil and crostini, a nice sized serving ($6) and a soup of the day.
Salads include the aforementioned radicchio as well as a brussels sprout Caesar, a Greek salad and a beet and burrata salad ($14) with roasted beets, green olives, toasted pistachios and dried apricots under a sherry vinaigrette.
Other “Mains,” range in price from the mid-$20s to the mid-$30s. They include: ricotta pumpkin gnudi with spinach and parsnip; veal cheek stroganoff with pappardelle, wild mushrooms and rosemary crème fraiche; a seven-ounce filet mignon with polenta; pan-seared artic char with chorizo and that tasty shrimp and lobster risotto; and usually a fish of the day and a special butcher’s cut, both at market price.
Desserts never disappoint, especially house donuts, pecan pie bread pudding and an ice cream trio sampler.
Don’t want to eat large? There’s a classic burger, turkey ciabatta with bacon and cheddar and a lovely Rueben on marble rye with house-made sauce.
I mentioned the bar for good reason. It is known for house specials, priced from $10 to $13, such as: its “Catcher in the Rye,” with rye whiskey and ginger liquor; “Queen of Bees,” with Philadelphia’s own Bluecoat gin, lemon and honey; and a “Smoked Manhattan,” applewood-infused bourbon and spiced cheery bitters.
Of course, there’s a nice selection of wines as well as local, popular and imported beers.
Don’t wait for the weather to break to dine on the patio. Curbside pickup is easy. The selections are many. The food is great. Every Harrisburg restaurant needs your patronage.
And you just might end up thinking like Dorothy Gale, at the end of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s 1939 film classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” and say to yourself, “There’s no place like Home.”
231 North St., Harrisburg
Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and for Sunday brunch; closed Monday. Always check restaurant for changing hours.
Street parking or a shared lot on the same side of the street about a block away.