The full name of this place is hardly an exaggeration: Miss Harriet’s repertoire does seem unlimited. She lists 60 different kinds of cheesecake on her menu, with seasonal and custom flavors always a possibility. It’s a small place — a cramped storefront with a close-quarters bakery in back — so the full roster is not available every day; When I stopped in, 19 different cakes were available: by the slice and in full 8-inch cakes. (Bigger ones also are available.)
I confess that in the hierarchy of beloved desserts, cheesecake is not at the top of my personal list: pie, layer cake, and ice cream surpass it. But if any place could convince me to elevate cheesecake to the top ranks, Harriet’s is it. The four different slices I sampled were each outstanding, all sharing the creamy, claylike avoirdupois that makes cheesecake so over-the-top rich, but each dramatically different in character, including unique crusts.
Harriet’s always-available best-seller is praline, a caramel-draped wedge of dense cake scattered with candied nuts on a crust that seems at least 50% brown sugar — soft and crumbly. The crust under a spicy sweet potato cheesecake is similar, but because the sweet potato cake is less gooey, the crust stays more intact. Under banana pudding cheesecake is a more traditional Graham cracker crust. Supporting the cookies ‘n’ cream cheesecake, which is absolutely chockful of thick chocolate veins, is a crust that is like the cookie part of an Oreo, but more intensely chocolaty. Jejune it may be, but the cookies ‘n’ cream slice is the one that kept me eating long after appetite had become a distant memory.
There is no place to eat at Harriet’s. All business is take-out. Cash only. Closed Sunday and Monday.