Harp and Clover restaurant is ode to Alabama owner’s Irish heritage
Harp and Clover restaurant in Gadsden has quite a following. While most customers are from Gadsden, many “foodies” drive 100 miles or more to indulge in delicious steaks, seafood and other fare.
The restaurant at 124 Court St. is the perfect place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or any time you want to enjoy a good meal. On March 17 – and the other five days of the week Harp and Clover is open – the Guinness and fine Irish whiskey are available to, all Irish or not.
“For St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll have all kinds of Irish drinks. Green beer, Guinness and Irish-themed cocktails will be flowing,” said Andy Harp, who, with co-owner Chef Brett Jenkins, operates Harp and Clover and the Creole-inspired NOLA on Second in Gadsden.
The menu is an eclectic mix of Irish and Southern fare. In honor of St. Paddy’s, there’s an authentic dish of bangers and mash, which is locally made smoked sausage with Irish stout gravy and Boursin mashed potatoes. Fish and chips – a food staple in Ireland – is another delicious option. The owner has his favorites.
“I’m in love with all of it, especially the dry-aged steaks. But I go back to simple shepherd’s pie, which is typical Irish fare,” said Harp, who calls himself a “self-professed restaurateur and serial entrepreneur.” Jenkins slow-roasts sirloin beef and adds vegetables, a side of Boursin potatoes and crispy, fried onions to make the sturdy Irish dish.
“We have Irish bar foods, and we feature high-end foods on our specialty menu for the weekend,” Harp said. “The everyday food is always consistent and delicious, but the features Chef puts together on the weekends are the wow factors.”
“Brett Jenkins is one of the best chefs in Alabama,” he added. “Brett is in charge of our day-to-day management. He’s the visionary and makes sure that we have the finest food for our customers. I always say that he’s ‘Mr. Restaurant’ and I’m ‘Mr. Marketing.’”
In good weather, guests may dine al fresco at Harp and Clover’s outdoor patio, where a huge botanical garden provides a verdant space away from the city.
“It’s a really nice outdoor space to enjoy a pint. It’s a neat place. It’s one of the hidden gems in Gadsden,” said Harp, adding with a booming laugh, “I know I’m biased.”
More than a century old, the dark brick building has original wood floors and “a ton of history,” Harp said. The vintage look of the place adds to the authentic tavern feel.
“It looked like an Irish pub before we put anything on the walls,” Harp said. “It’s an eclectic mix of history. I’ve added art from a local artist that specializes in Celtic art. We’ve got metal work made by a local artisan.
“Putting Harp and Clover here was kind of a natural fit,” he added. “It’s an ode to my Irish roots.”
Melding Irish ancestry into successes
Harp, who has a membership with Ancestry.com, said his ancestors – two Irish brothers – emigrated from the Emerald Isles in the early 1800s. The men likely came through the Port of New York. Ironically, the family’s original name was not Harp.
“The Ancestry.com research has been fascinating, and I was surprised to learn that our name may have been Earp, like Wyatt Earp,” said Harp, who doesn’t know whether he’s related to the famous lawman who led the 30-second gun fight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
“I don’t know, but I was told by a researcher that maybe because of his thick Irish accent, they took his name as Harp on Census records,” he added.
Before COVID-19, much of downtown Gadsden celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a huge outdoor street festival.
“This year is more low key,” Harp said. “We’ll have a small celebration because of social distancing.”
Harp is ready to see the city’s restaurants return to “wide open business.” He wants Gadsden – the state’s second-most important center of industry in the early 19th century – to continue to grow and prosper.
He is considering turning his vintage building that houses Harp and Clover into a boutique hotel. Among other business avenues, Harp is helping to develop the Village at Town Creek, a business incubator similar to Huntsville’s Lowe Mill, at a 200,000-square-foot site.
“We’re raising $20 million toward that project,” Harp said. “I want to give back and be a part of the education and impacts, to plant the seeds of growth in Gadsden.”
Despite the hardships of the pandemic, his restaurants have remained open, thanks to the dedication of their employees and customers.
“It’s just a really cool time,” Harp said. “We’ve thrived because of good human nature. Everyone played a part – our employees, our customers and, of course, our families.
“Even when people didn’t need food, they bought it and took meals home,” he said. “It’s very humbling, and it makes you want to give back to others. And I hope that, through our businesses and ideas, we leave a positive impact on our community.”
The food and drink: 90-day dry-aged steaks; Irish bar foods; specialty weekend menu; beer and all types of cocktails.
124 Court St., Gadsden, Alabama, 35901
Tuesday through Thursday hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; closed on Monday.
Takeout and delivery is available. Call 256-467-4824.
Find Harp and Clover on Facebook.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)