What? Harlem East for dinner
Where? 67 Richmond st e (6 min walk from Queen station)
Price? $20-$30 (mains $16-$23)
The skinny: “Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Harlem celebrates the joy of Toronto’s cultural diversity and the art of entertaining. It is a rebirth of creativity in Food, Art, Music, and Cocktails.”
I’ve read some good things about Harlem East so they were all the way up there on the list when I saw both locations on the Tuesday Foodie card. Tuesday Foodie (@TuesdayFoodie) is a program where, by paying for a membership, you receive a card which entitles you to 30% discount at participating restaurants on Tuesdays (with some restrictions). Originally, it was only going to last for a few months but was quickly extended to last the full year! ;D
My friend and I sat at the front-most table because of the “optimal” lighting. What we forgot was that it’s still April and it gets dark FAST! (yes, this post is super late! I refound the memory card on which the photos were on only recently).
The restaurant is quite narrow and long but still spacious enough to seat about 30. I’m not entirely sure but there may be seating upstairs available as well if need be.
I think it’s so fun to have the menu on a LP-shaped disc!
Cornbread – (5)
This, I’m sorry to say, was nothing special. It was cool that there were little tidbits in there but it was on the dry side and did not compare to the cornbread I had at Sylvia’s.
The Mississippi Masala Mussels – (10.95)
Not sure how the masala spice blend factors into Southern cuisine, we decided to give this a try. Oooh not the greatest idea. The sauce was good, it had a nice kick to it. The mussels, which should’ve been the main attraction, weren’t. Not fresh.
The mussels came with a few slices of toast to mop up the sauce. ;)
Southern Fried Chicken – (16.95)
I’ll give this to them, the chicken was definitely tender and the crust was super crunchy. The collard greens were less than impressive though. Tough and almost rancid tasting, I only had one bite before pushing it aside. I would’ve loved the fried chicken without the collard greens or the overly sweet sauce.
Mac-n-Cheese (side w/ Southern Fried Chicken)
Our server said that Harlem has a few “signature” dishes, mac-n-cheese being one of them. It looked promising but fell flat. My friend said it’s probably because we’re too spoiled by The Gabardine’s version. I definitely agree with him here!
Harlem Jambalaya – (19.95)
Sorry about the complete lack of proper white balance. As for the actual dish, another disappointment. The catfish was almost absent, the sausage was bland. Finally, there was crab meat in there. I’m talking the imitation stuff that comes in sticks. So disappointing.
At the end of the meal, I presented the Tuesday Foodie cards and the server didn’t know at all what to do with them. That was surprising. Anyway, we did get the 30% discount in the end…
One final shot of the fried chicken...was it plum sauce that they used? Either way, it didn't work.
Verdict: I was really taken aback by this particular experience. Having expected a great meal of Southern cuisine, both my friend and I were really disappointed. Maybe the original location in the west, Harlem Underground is much better, but I’m not sure if I want to risk it.
Check ‘em out! http://www.harlemrestaurant.com/aboutus.html
2 out of 5 NOMs