Harry’s Bump and Grind dishes out local art and tasty food
Equal parts chef and floor show, Harry Gray is easy to spot.”I’m the big ragu with the funny hat and a knife,” said the chef and proprietor of Harry’s Bump and Grind in Minturn, where coffeehouse meets art gallery.The joint is unassuming, with its concrete floor, soup table and a line of tomatoes ripening on the window sill. But don’t confuse low key with low quality. The menu is brief, but it’s the real deal.”I don’t sell anything that’s not good,” Gray said. “I’ve been a food aficionado my whole life. I didn’t get this big from not liking it.”Harry’s Bump and Grind is a good old-fashioned coffeehouse. The hot drinks are first-rate – just don’t ask for run-of-the-mill cocoa.”This is a fancy coffee joint,” he said. “We don’t have hot cocoa. We do have steamed milk with Ghiradelli chocolate.”But the food is what distinguishes it from other “fancy coffee” shops. Baked goods like cinnamon twists (he’ll heat them for you) and lemon bars (tart and creamy) make grand, albeit naughty, companions for coffee and tea. But heartier appetites will appreciate the selection of daily soups, lasagna, paninis and burritos. His mother’s meat loaf is a top seller.”Minturn is a mini-shopping destination now,” said Gray. “I think people are happy to have a non-corporate alternative to Starbucks. I get a nice mix of dinosaur locals and tourists, too.”I opted to try the vegetarian San Luis potato soup ($4). It’s self-serve at the soup station, though Gray, the consummate host, is happy to crown the soup with a bit of freshly grated white cheddar cheese. He usually has two or three soups available.He may call himself a big ragu, but don’t be fooled. The man has chili peppers running in his veins; he’s not afraid to share them, either. His green chile is kick-your-ass spicy, and can be eaten by the bowl or smothered over a burrito. It’s a good remedy for stuffy noses and winter spirits.It was the panini ($5-$6) that stole the show, though. Gray roasts his own beef – and has a knack for it. Cooked a perfect medium rare, it shared space with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes, which were salted and peppered, evidence of Gray’s attention to detail. Grilled in a panini press and served with a pickle, the warm sandwich was too big too finish, but tasty enough to make me try.”What’s nice about running a coffee house is it’s the right end of the spectrum, food-wise,” said Gray. “I can serve high quality food, but it’s a limited menu, and I make it on my time. The volume is about right here, too. And the other best part of having a coffee house – mostly you get pretty girls.”There’s plenty of seating, though Wednesday nights get crowded. It’s the only night of the week Harry’s Bump and Grind serves dinner. All Strung Out provides live music – they play for soup and tips.The gallery space is set up so folks can roam. Hand-turned wooden vessels, sculptures and prints compete for the eye. Gray’s still working on expanding the art. He primarily carries the work of artists he knows, though he’s open to looking at anything. It works on a consignment basis; he’s able to give the artists a higher cut than most galleries, he said.Gray isn’t the only person who works the counter at Harry’s. Longtime local Patti Warren is a frequent face, too. She and Gray go back a long way.”She does raise as much hell as needed,” he said. “She just comes in here and hits it hard, whether it’s building sandwiches or doing dishes.”Harry’s Bump and Grind is open weekdays at 6:30 a.m. and weekends at 7:30 a.m. Coffee drinks, breakfast and lunch fare are served until 3 p.m.”But if you can get in, I’ll serve you,” said Gray, who’s often still around at 3:30.But word to the wise: If he’s got his feet up and looks relaxed, you might offer to get him a cup of joe. It’s not often the floor show gets to sit down.