Harris Wine Cellar’s Shrimp Sandwich

Shrimp Sandwich

In the early 1980’s I worked for a publishing company in the downtown industrial area of Portland. One of the most popular lunch spots in the city back then was Harris Wine Cellars on NW 23rd and Thurman.  The restaurant was at the back of the wine shop and had long  paper covered communal tables where, if you were a regular, you eventually got to know many of the people who worked in the area.  The menu was small:  soup, 4 or 5 sandwiches, a salad or two, and desserts.  Back in the 80’s it was common to indulge in a glass of wine with lunch and their selection was good.

Shrimp Sandwich

The Oregon wine industry was in its infancy in the early ’80’s  and grocery stores didn’t have large wine selections to choose from.  So small wine shops were where one would go to find any kind of selection.  Wine wasn’t as popular back then and I think we served it for special occasions only like holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc… so unlike today where it’s a part of everyday life.

Shrimp Sandwich

The food at Harris Wine Cellar was delicious and this shrimp sandwich was one of my favorites.  What makes it extra special is the Vermouth Sauce that is spread on the bread. It doesn’t sound like much but it adds a very special flavor to the sandwich.  FYI…Vermouth is a fortified wine, like Madeira or sherry. At 18% alcohol by volume, it is one of the most potent things you can buy at the grocery store. “Fortified” means the wine has had a distilled spirit – in this case brandy – added to it, which accounts for the higher alcohol content.  Additionally, vermouth is flavored with herbs and spices (like cardamom, cinnamon, majorjam, and chamomile), so a little bit of vermouth packs a lot of taste.  It’s amazing what a smear of this cream cheese sauce can do for a meatloaf sandwich… or a roast beef one!

Harris wine cellars

Harris Wine Cellar is long gone from the Portland restaurant scene and is now a branch of the Multnomah County Library.  If you are familiar with this wine shop/restaurant and have any other recipes from their menu I would love to know about it.   After the closing members of the family opened a restaurant in Redmond, Oregon. I’m going there next week and will stop by for lunch and a little reminiscing.  Maybe they will have a recipe or two they will share.  I’ll let you know.

Harris Wine Cellar’s Shrimp Sandwich
Vermouth Sauce:
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup dry vermouth
  • 2 cups bay shrimp (tiny cooked shrimp)
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon onion salt
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • dash angostura bitters (optional)
  • butter
  • mayonnaise
  • 1 loaf good bread
  • cucumbers, peeled and sliced
  • iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
To Make Sauce:
  1. In a medium bowl, blend together the cream cheese and vermouth until smooth.
To Make Sandwich:
  1. In a medium bowl stir together the shrimp, celery, scallions, mayonnaise, celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt, cayenne pepper and angostura bitter.
  2. Spread butter and mayonnaise on one side of a slice of bread. Spread Vermouth Sauce on the other slice, followed by a layer of cucumber slices. Top with a spoonful or two of the shrimp mixture. Top with shredded lettuce and first slice of bread.
Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe


  1. Karen Harris says

    This looks wonderful. I remember a place in Houston in the 80s that had a great shrimp dip (I would describe it as more of a spread) that they served with garlic toasts that would have tasted something llike this. Oh memories! I’m going to have to try this one.
    Karen Harris recently posted..Saucy Mama’s 2014 Recipe Contest and Giveaway: Honey Dijon Fried Chicken and Bacon WafflewichesMy Profile

  2. Ramona says

    So yummy looking. I love shrimp salad. Seems like all my favorite places have faded away too. I would give anything to be able to make a taco salad like El Sombero, a meatball poboy like Pascguales, Hot and Sour soup from Peking…………now I’m hungry.

  3. Susan says

    That sandwich looks so good. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon or two of white wine, or even up to 1/4 cup, I don’t waste the good stuff. I just substitute vermouth and have always been pleased with the results. Besides, it is always open, sitting in the fridge, waiting for a martini….;)
    Susan recently posted..It’s a long way from here…..My Profile

  4. Monique says

    I like the sound of that sauce and the look of the croissandwich..
    Looks delectable!
    Monique recently posted..Things are looking up..and greener~My Profile

  5. Pam says

    It sounds like that was a great little restaurant! A shrimp sandwich and glass of wine works for me!

  6. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen says

    This sounds wonderful Cathy. I love the bitters with the shrimp and the vermouth sauce sounds fantastic. Vermouth doesn’t get the respect it should in many cases. I remember that Julia Child used vermouth in place of wine in many of her recipes.
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Hearty Ham and Cheese Muffins for On-the-go BreakfastsMy Profile

  7. Kitty says

    Oh my Cathy, the shrimp sandwich sounds fabulous. I must give this a try as I love shrim and the addition of Vermouth is a new one to me.
    Kitty recently posted..Chicken and OrzoMy Profile

  8. cheri says

    I never have had a shrimp sandwich before, yes a bisque, with rice or a salad, but this sounds amazing. Thanks Cathy!
    cheri recently posted..Noodle Salad with Chicken and Chili-Scallion OilMy Profile

  9. Pam says

    It sounds like a great restaurant – too bad it’s not around anymore. This sandwich looks drool worthy Cathy!
    Pam recently posted..Pork Tenderloin Medallions in a Lemon Caper SauceMy Profile

  10. Bonnie says

    When I was in New England, I wanted a lobster roll in the worse way. However, a few year’s ago, I became slightly ill from eating lobster. This happened a second time a few months later so I thought I’d better leave it out of my diet. Since then, I enjoy a shrimp roll instead. Your’s look delicious and I’m going to give them a try at home.


  11. Larry says

    It’s too bad the place is goen but great that left such a good looking sandwich as a legacy.
    Larry recently posted..2014 Charleston Trip – Rally Day 2My Profile

  12. Adri says

    What wonderful memories! Isn’t it a pity how many of the great old spots are gone. The good news is you can revisit them by recreating the recipes. So all is not lost. This sounds wonderful, and I am particularly intrigued by the vermouth sauce. I would NEVER have thought of using it in this fashion. I adore vermouth. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Marigene says

    I haven’t had a shrimp sandwich in years…anxious to try this one!
    Marigene recently posted..A Cheerful TableMy Profile

  14. Lee Flegel says

    Alas, if you’re coming to Redmond to drop by Harris Wine Cellar, it is no longer in operation. Art and Sidney Thomas have been retired for some time and the girls have moved on. Last I knew, Heather was Sous-Chef at Sunriver. And Karry is the wine person at Albertson’s in Redmond.

    Other sandwiches at both their Portland and Redmond venues were delicious. The turkey had a zingy blast of curry and bacon bits. The paté was particularly smooth and hedonistic – – you could feel your arteries clogging. Meat loaf was a fave. And, of course, the shrimp – – not to mention Art’s impeccable taste for wines, chosen for value and pairing with the sandwiches. O happy days. ☼Sigh☼

    • says

      Hi Lee – Thanks so much for the information. I’m sorry to learn that they are no longer in business. I’m happy to have their shrimp sandwich recipe and I have many good memories of wonderful meals in their restaurant. I forgot about the pate… wish I had that recipe. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.
      Cathy recently posted..Strawberry White Chocolate Cream PavlovaMy Profile

      • Lee Flegel says

        Secret ingredient in the paté was a splash of brandy. Seems as if all of their sandwiches had a wrinkle. The shredded lettuce was a Harris touch. You just couldn’t go wrong. In Portland, was always fun to hook up with my wife (worked at close-by Good Samaritan) for lunch and a ritual glass of wine. Couldn’t believe our good fortune when we moved to Redmond in 1999 to discover they had just moved here. Their musical nights – – with virtuoso singers (not to mention the 5 course dinners with matching wines) – – were La Scala bel canto on the desert.

  15. Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) says

    Being a big fan of the Oregon Wine industry, I love this post about the beginning days. I sure wish I could have visited that restaurant. And the sandwich sounds delicious. Love that vermouth sauce. Must try. Pinned.
    Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) recently posted..South of the Border, Mexican SlidersMy Profile

  16. Karen (Back Road Journal) says

    Between the vermouth and the bitters, there is a lot of flavor going on in that shrimp salad sandwich.
    Karen (Back Road Journal) recently posted..Tips On Growing Tomatoes SuccessfullyMy Profile

  17. Sara MacAllister Ingalls says

    How I loved this place! The wine cellar and restaurant were opened by my cousins Burt and Louise Harris. Burt and Louise’s daughter Sidney (along with her husband Art) worked in the business as well…as did their two daughters Heather and Karry. I live in Southern California, so it was always a treat to return to Portland and stop by the shop…LOVED the shrimp salad sandwich. I am visiting the Bend area next week and will see my cousins Sidney and Art. Art is going to make this fabulous shrimp sandwich for my friends and me…can’t wait!!!! (Unfortunately, Harris Wine Cellar in Redmond has closed.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>