As mentioned in a previous post, I do love me a good hotel lobby bar, and get particularly excited when the inbox contains an invite to a new opening. For so many reasons, the August 19th opening of Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill at the Rosen Centre Hotel certainly did not disappoint! Before I give you my ‘High Five for Harry’s’ review, I’ll let you in on a secret. . .
When I first heard the name, I did a little happy dance in my mind while remembering a most fabulous experience I once had at THE Harry’s Bar, you know the really famous one in Venice, as in Venice, Italy, right?
Being that the original was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, Orson Wells, Ari Onassis and friends ‘back in the day’, I knew it was a must-see during my first Venetian visit a few years ago. Except for the outrageous price – as compared to the actual size- of their namesake cocktail the Bellini (recipe found on Harry’s Bar Venezia website listed above), it did not disappoint.
HINT: don’t ask, just order and enjoy. In fact, get a couple, then you’ll soon forget all about that outrageous price for one because you naturally expect a bigger bill when you order multiples, and after a few of them who can figure out the Euros per drink anyway? Arriving in front of it via the traditional Venetian gondola, one can’t go wrong with enjoying the entire experience of being in the original and sipping that peach delight down to the very last drop of it’s European goodness. So I was a little worried that enjoying Harry’s Bar, Rosen Centre Orlando, was going to be a tad anti-climatic.
But now I’m 99% positive (still 1% relying on the yummy and potent Mojito they gave me at the entrance) that this Harry’s Bar will do just fine when I can’t grab my passport and suitcase (along with a gondola full of money) in a jiff and rush back to Italy when I feel the need for a visit to ‘a’ Harry’s. Yes, it’s that good.
So as promised, here’s my list of best reasons to suffer through the I-4 traffic and make your way to the Rosen Centre Hotel, specifically to enjoy the new bar:
5) It’s poolside/ it’s inside, so your Northern friends can sit outside and enjoy the 135+- temp (100% humidity included at no additional charge) while you grab a comfy seat inside to stay cool as a cucumber.
4) The menu is full of tropical and Caribbean awesomeness including yummy things at lunch like Chef’s special bar-b-que chips made with deep fried Russet potatoes and served with chili aioli ($8) and little Havana Sliders (3 @ $12) served on a sweet island bun with a side of Yucca fries, and if you go for dinner check out the giant Hurricane Platter ($19) with enough goodness to get you through, well, you figure it out. Plus it’s affordable fun, especially when there’s live entertainment.
3) As always, service at any facility with Mr. Rosen’s name on it is delivered by a smiling member of a well trained staff who appears to enjoy the job and be grateful that they work within the ‘Rosen empire’ given the exceptional benefits that come with those jobs. (If you don’t believe me, check that out yourself.
2) Parking is FREE if you tell them Harry sent you! Well, the free part is valid, but you don’t have to actually ‘know’ Harry to qualify. To be clear, what you need to do is go to the guard shack at the self parking entrance and tell them you’re local but want to enjoy Harry’s Poolside Bar and Grill, and then they will waive the magic guard wand and let you into the parking garage, so really it’s just like knowing Harry, right?
1) Harry’s = Harris Rosen. High standards. Exceptional service. Convenient location. Functional space. Excellent product.
Oh, and about that name. It was really sweet to hear Mr. Rosen himself explain the details of how his great grandfather, Harris Rosenkofsky, had immigrated from the Ukraine back in the early 1900’s through Ellis island with whatever his suitcase would hold. If you’ve lived in Orlando for any length of time you know the rest of this success story behind the Rosen name. (Feel free to do your own Google search on it, and also don’t forget to check out this little gem of his along with all those hotels that bear his name.) But in a sign that the times they are a changing, during the opening we also met a couple of the Rosen siblings who have quietly been working their way into the empire that is Rosen. (And by into we mean in, under, around, and through the entire system – aka the old fashioned way – just like their hard working family patriarch has always done). But honestly, no need for ‘Harry’ to worry about someone taking his name off this bar, at least anytime soon. Now approaching his 75th birthday, Harris Rosen is very much still the Don of all that is Rosen.
So, what are you waiting for? Invitations, along with 25% discounts have already been issued in recent editions of the Orlando Sentinel’s Friday calendar section, so bring one of those but leave your passport behind. Unless you’re heading to ‘the other’ Harry’s Bar, where believe me, no discounts will be found!