Artwork by Suzanne LaFleur

The Harlem Experience Part II

Some other great things about Harlem are the restaurants.  The area boasts some of the city’s best spots for bar-b-que, southern/soul food, Italian and Latino food.  There is the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que along with Hudson River Café and Miss Maude’s Spoonbread Too.

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With Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster

A favorite of mine is Red Rooster Harlem, which is a newer-to-the-area restaurant that opened in 2010.  Red Rooster was opened by celebrity chef and Harlem local Marcus Samuelsson to great anticipation.  It is named after the legendary Harlem Speakeasy that was located at 138th st. and 7th avenue.  Just the name conjures up Harlem’s vibrant history – Red Rooster was a stomping ground for jazz greats, authors, politicians, and figures like Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Nat King Cole and James Baldwin.  The menu offers an eclectic cuisine of comfort food injected with Marcus’s diverse culinary interests.  The cocktails alone are worth a visit and offer unique twists on the classics. Everything about this establishment is welcoming from the interior atmosphere and staff to the diverse crowd of diners. Marcus is often at the restaurant to talk with guests and I have been lucky enough to meet him.  You can really sense a celebration of Harlem and its history and culture when dining here.

Another favorite spot of mine is Maison Harlem.  This French Bistro just opened up in early fall and is definitely serving to establish Harlem as a culinary destination. The restaurant was dreamed up by two French expats – chef Roman Bonnans and host Samuel Thiam.  Their love of food and wine is felt throughout the entire place right down to the charming rustic interior.  I especially enjoy the fresh in-house baked bread, oysters, and grilled salmon dish.  The wine list is all you could imagine.  Roman and Samuel are incredible sweet.  They are always there and you really can feel their passion for the cuisine of their native country as well as Harlem in conversation.  Maison Harlem is located very close to my studio.  I have had a lot of visitors to my studio lately and this is the place that I take them afterward for a drink or bite to eat.  Everyone always leaves Maison Harlem happy.

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