Harmon’s Lunch, Falmouth
Posted on February 23, 2012
by Joe Ricchio
Though I am starving, I don’t even flinch when told there will be a 20-minute wait for my cheeseburger. Instead, I sit quietly and patiently amidst a sea of senior citizens and children, content with the knowledge that soon I will receive my fix. I have been coming to Harmon’s Lunch to satisfy a very powerful craving for quite some time, and it has yet to fall short of my expectations.
So you can imagine my disappointment upon learning that an alarming number of my friends and acquaintances have yet to experience this joy for themselves.
Harmon’s is the quintessential burger shack, a Maine institution that has been cooking burgers and hot dogs on the same veteran flattop grill for as long as I can remember. Your options are limited, and can only be purchased with cash. On the menu they explain that they made a deal with the bank—”[The bank] won’t sell burgers and we won’t extend any credit.” Other friendly reminders for potentially difficult clientele include a sign making it very clear that if you are a fervent believer in Burger King’s policy of providing food “your way” than you may be in the wrong place.
The primary decorative element in the dining area is an impressive array of old glass milk jugs, filled with white pellets that serve to highlight the labels and create the illusion that each vessel is still filled with dairy fresh milk. The walls are lined with framed accolades, many now faded, that I would attempt to read if I were more comfortable leaning directly over a table of potentially grouchy 70-year-olds that have, no doubt, been coming here since before I was born.
Though I always order the exact same thing—two double cheeseburgers and a small fry—I have decided to deviate and also try one of their hot dogs for the sake of this review. I request that the dog be “loaded” in the same fashion as the burger, which means topped with fried onions, red relish, and mustard. Ice for fountain soda is housed in a small Igloo cooler with tongs for self-service, just don’t leave the lid open or you’ll catch hell from the owners for such blatant irresponsibility.
All of the elements are in place when it comes to the cheeseburgers at Harmon’s. Thin patties, intensely flavorful and well seasoned from the griddle, are topped with a slice of melted cheese to start. As stated earlier, I like mine “loaded,” with the crunchy fried onions adding texture and mingling nicely with the sweet, tangy red relish and sharp mustard. The bun is soft, like a little burger pillow, delicately housing each element without compromising its own structural integrity. The only thing I sometimes find a bit annoying is that the burgers are served on flimsy beverage napkins that inevitably cling to the hot food. The threat of ingesting a little bit of paper, however, isn’t nearly enough to stop me from hungrily devouring every last morsel.
The French fries are hand-cut, and best enjoyed doused in vinegar and Heinz Ketchup, which is, in my opinion, the only brand of ketchup any restaurant should ever have on the table. Although I do find my hot dog quite enjoyable, with its buttery, soft bun and liberal coating of magic red relish, it just can’t stack up to the pleasure that comes with each bite of the cheeseburger. If you’re still hungry afterwards (and you shouldn’t be if you’ve ordered correctly), you are welcome to find out exactly “what you would do for a Klondike bar,” as it is the primary option for dessert.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that very few things satisfy the soul like a great burger, and Harmon’s Lunch has stood the test of time by consistently offering one of Maine’s best.
Who needs Happy Meal toys, anyway?
144 Gray Rd. | Falmouth | 207.797.9857