Since we stayed in Harlem, we mostly ate in Harlem, and therefore have a few recommendations to share, in chronological order of our time there.
Dinner: We started off night 1 eating at Harlem Tavern, a place Lindsay assured me we would love. We met up with a few of Joe’s friends from Brown, and a few of my friends from undergrad/Salzburg, and sat on the outdoor patio. I would now like to take a moment to recognize it was here, at Harlem Tavern on 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd., where Joe and I consumed the greatest flatbread pizza OF ALL TIME. I really wish I would have taken a picture of it, but we were so incredibly hungry that I don’t think any of our friends even caught a glimpse of that pizza before it was gone. We also ordered (and devoured) the seafood gumbo, which was good, but fairly unremarkable. If you go, PLEASE get the Bruschetta flatbread pizza. And then order one to go, pack it up real nicely, and overnight it to me, wherever I may be.
Breakfast/brunch/lunch: We ate a late breakfast (well, probably brunch) at Sylvana, which is by no means a breakfast/brunch establishment, so I’m sorry to mislead you. But we shared a falafel platter and upon being handed said platter, I announced to no one in particular, “I have died and gone to heaven.” It was really good, but it was not the best falafel I’ve ever had (meaning, it didn’t compare to La’s du Fallafel or Falafel King). What I appreciated more was the very sensinble portion size, the great service, the overall ambiance, and the most interesting mix of Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera that was playing while we ate! I also thought I saw Serge Ibaka there, but was sadly mistaken. This set the tone for later on in the day when I would think I saw Kevin Durant wearing a No Fear graphic tee in Central Park, only to realize it was a homeless man. :/ Anyhow, I actually enjoy eating falafel for breakfast, lunch or dinner, so a breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurant Sylvana’s shall henceforth be! It's located just around the corner from Harlem Tavern at 300 W. 116th St.
Dessert: I had to get a cookie from Levain, and was just so certain it would be the best cookie I had ever eaten in my life, 4 inches in height and all. It was actually NOT the best cookie I have ever eaten in my life, and what’s more is that it wasn’t even that good? What’s the big deal with Levain, New York? Am I missing something? I will say that we got the oatmeal raisin cookie and I’m told that was a grave mistake – that chocolate chip is the choice to make at Levain. In any case, when Joe tried to feed the remaining pieces of the cookie to the ducks in Central Park later that day, I stopped him, shouting, “Joe! That was a $4 cookie and those ducks will NOT appreciate it!” Thus, I ate the rest of it – ungrateful little ducks be damned – but mostly just because I was in a whole lot of denial about having spent $4 on a cookie I didn’t even really like. I don't recommend it, but if you want to see for yourself, it's at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd., just a few steps away from Harlem Tavern.
Drinks: Slightly further down Frederick Douglass (2194) is the bar Mess Hall. Mess Hall was so fun that we went there two nights in a row. We stumbled upon the place somewhat fortuitously and I am so glad we did. I love the vibe inside (combination of the lighting + the brick interior + the blank wall onto which a projector plays a different movie each night) but what I love more is they offer complimentary cheese puffs and trail mix with your drink orders. I wondered, as I was stuffing my face with cheese puffs, why I was stuffing my face with cheese puffs when I would never eat this at home? I think because traveling and walking and walking and traveling for hours upon hours can cause you to burn 1,000 calories in such a short amount of time and when you’re that hungry, you’ll eat anything, really. I never actually drank anything at Mess Hall because both times we went I ordered water, so I guess this is a pretty useless recommendation, huh? At least you know that (1) the service is great (2) the vibe is great (3) the cheese puffs and trail mix are free.
Next week, I shall talk about running into Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana in Manhattan! That was neat.