If it seems like deja vu, it is. Harper's, the popular restaurant and watering hole in 1980s Darien, is back. Same owner, albeit new generation.

The Sandolo family has always owned the building and Robert opened the original Harper's before deciding to lease the property to Centro. With the lease expiration, his son, Joseph Sandolo, decided to return to his roots. The family, owner of several other local restaurants, knows what it takes for success -- good food at good prices with good service.

Right out of the gate, Harper's delivers on all three fronts.

The ambience here clearly speaks to the purpose. A really big bar invites you to stay awhile and nibble. Dark woods, tiled flooring, whitewashed brick, rich red walls, and old-style chandeliers play off a huge mirror behind the bar, all of which suggest cozy, informal, American bistro dining. A little more light and windows would be nice at lunch, but the aura is inviting in the evening.

The menu offers few surprises, and as usual in a place that runs the gamut from burgers to Porterhouse steaks and from blackened scallops to pasta primavera, the best advice is to stay with the tried-and-true all-American. Indeed, our enthusiastic, smart and most accommodating waitress steered us in the right direction with the things she liked best.

She said the burgers were great, especially the sliders. She was right. The traditional starts with a big, juicy Angus patty on golden soft brioche with a side of golden crisp fries and crunchy-fresh, though rather ordinary, coleslaw. Other burger options include turkey with teriyaki sauce and Asian slaw, barbecue chicken with cheddar and onions, fried cod with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce, or our favorite, fork-tender pulled pork with pepper jack, onions and peppers.

Salads read like standard issue, but are served in abundance with fine ingredients. Some choices are grilled vegetables with red pepper and balsamic glaze, mushrooms and shaved Parmesan over spinach with balsamic vinaigrette, chili-rubbed steak and mango over arugula or golden curried chicken with apples, grapes, tomato and cucumber.

Pizzas and pastas are fine, but this is not the Italian restaurant that preceded Harper's in this space, so stay with the expected items, such as pizza margherita or linguine with clams instead of more challenging ideas such as farfalle with smoked and fresh salmon or steak and onion pizza.

The same theory applies to main courses. Fried shrimp in a basket with chipotle mayo and fries is terrific, as are blackened scallops. Barbecued chicken and ribs are tender and meaty, though this is not a true barbecue joint.

Bar-sitters and meal nibblers will be rewarded by the pristine fresh options at the raw bar and also with some good choices from the appetizer menu. Indeed, a plate of nachos is enough for two for a whole meal and highlights the good Texas-style chili from the kitchen. Other pleasing options are finger-licking buffalo wings, hearty clam and corn chowder or French onion soup and beer-battered and fried shrimp.

Desserts are a mixed bag. White chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce is a winner, but lemon meringue pie is soggy-crusted and more sugary than lemony.

There is a children's menu and Harper's is decidedly kid-friendly, especially during the day and early evening. This is a place with wide appeal and a comfortable feel, both pointing to a long life.