By Noah Austin | Photo by Paul Markow
A patch on Harry Olson’s uniform reads, “Have Chef, Will Travel.” And Olson certainly has. He and his wife, Adele, met as computer programmers in their native Chicago and later opened Burgundy Bistro in a Windy City suburb. They ran the restaurant for 16 years, but after one of their customers relocated to Arizona, “when he came back to visit, it was all he talked about,” Adele says.
The Olsons decided to check out the state for themselves. Ultimately, they left behind Chicago’s gray skies and settled in the Village of Oak Creek, and in September 2010, they opened Harry’s Hideaway in the out-of-the-way community of Cornville, southwest of Sedona. It’s quickly become a local favorite, not just among Cornville residents, but also for those in Sedona, Prescott and even Flagstaff. That’s by design: Harry says the menu, which features few items more than $20, is “priced for locals, and if we get tourists, that’s just icing on the cake.”
But the food is the real key to the self-taught chef’s success. Take the pulled-pork sandwich: Harry dry-rubs a pork shoulder with his own spice blend, then slowly roasts it for at least six hours. The sandwich is a half-pound of pork covered with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and served on a brioche bun. Order it with the shoestring fries; you won’t regret it.
Other popular items include ratatouille (“I have to offer something for those vegetarians,” Harry says), the New Orleans-style crab cake and the shrimp Albear appetizer. The latter — sautéed shrimp in olive oil, with garlic, paprika, chile de árbol and a Cuban seasoning Harry buys in Miami — is named after a Cuban exile who was an anesthesiologist in Chicago and a regular customer at the Olsons’ restaurant there. “He was missing Cuban food, so we collaborated with him on this dish,” Harry says.
There’s also a stable of rotating specials, one of which, the chocolate salad, has been making a compelling case for the everyday menu. It’s mixed greens, strawberries, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and walnuts, drizzled with chocolate vinaigrette made with olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill. And don’t leave without ordering a local beer or glass of wine, or without trying the chocolate-mousse cups, ice cream or other desserts, all of which are made from scratch.
While Burgundy Bistro was all about fine dining, the Olsons aimed for a more casual feel with Harry’s. The small, homey restaurant is warm and inviting, from the comfortable indoor booths to the shaded patio. And Adele and a server keep drinks flowing and diners satisfied.
As Harry talks about his labor of love, he’s interrupted by a regular customer who congratulates him on his recent weight loss. So how does he keep the weight off while cooking up all this mouthwatering food? “A lot of willpower,” he says, laughing. “And sometimes I call Adele over to taste the stuff.”
Harry’s Hideaway is located at 10990 E. Cornville Road, Suite C, in Cornville. It’s open Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner. For more information, call 928-639-2222 or visit www.harryshideaway.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Since the publication of this article, Harry's Hideaway has changed chefs, but the menu remains the same.