Drop me off in Harlem

11 Oct

This past week I’ve eaten at two spots in Harlem that totally reminded me why I love living up here.

1. Melba’s. Imagine the southern comfort food of Sylvia’s (Melba is Sylvia’s niece) served in a small, modern and slightly more upscale dining room with better decor (century-old chandeliers, black subway tile, church pews). We went for brunch on a drippy, chilly morning and my irritation at the unpleasant walk dissipated when we stepped into the warm and homey interior. Despite being packed (they take res before noon), Melba’s managed to exude a calmness; instrumental Bob Marley tracks played softly. After a short wait and being served biscuits—never a bad thing—I ordered a basic spinach omelette (zzzz) but my husband tried the signature brunch dish: Southern Fried Chicken and Eggnog Waffles. He said it was one of the best dishes he had EVER had. Based on my bite, it’s no wonder it beat one of Bobby Flay’s in a throwdown. The bill—including one mimosa and a side of grits to honor my late Meme in Birmingham—came to less than $40 with tip! I couldn’t help but think how welcoming and festive this place must feel around the holidays.

2. Chez Lucienne. This cozy French bistro is right next door to Red Rooster. Less of a scene while still being lively,  it’s been ranked as one of the top restaurants in Harlem for the past few years. Even on a random Tuesday it was full of French speakers, both at the bar and at tables. The soupe a l’oignon has just the right amount of salt, topped by a perfect  slice of gruyere—sop up every last drop with thick-cut french bread. Choose from steak au poivre, coq au vin, moules, escargot, and assorted poisson and other treats from la mer. Or hell, just have a delicious-looking kobe beef burger. But no matter what you order, you MUST get the frites. Wines are about $9/glass, and while we didn’t indulge, other people appeared to be enjoying the selection. Or go on a Wednesday when many bottles are half off. In fact, there are a bunch of daily specials that keep your tab from becoming extravagant.

Uptown really is indescribable: the spots, the people, the vibe. Come visit us sometime!

Advertisements