Last Friday I attended the Raine Magazine party at the Empire Hotel, yes the same place as the Reward Style fashion week party, and let’s leave it at when you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all with the caveat that one of my friends traversed the snowstorm to join me. As we were leaving the event I was hungry and in the mood for something different. But before we bundled up to face the cold, Camilla, who is a huge Gossip Girl fan, insisted on a photo with the giant E door knobs.
Having recently graduated from the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia, and a friend from the one time I visited Cambridge, Camilla asked if I wanted to check out a place in her neighborhood for dinner. We hopped on the 1 train from Lincoln Center with every intention of getting off at 105th and going to one of her ‘locals’ until she started telling me about the life-altering burgers at Harlem Public. She explained that it was much further up, on 149th and Broadway, but it was worth it. Hey, I figured, it was Friday, why not?
As soon as we walked through the door, in not the best neighborhood I might add, I was hooked. I knew I would have to document this experience and share it with all of you. Let me preface by saying when I know I am going to a popular restaurant in New York City I always make a reservation and refuse to wait more than 15 minutes but when they told us 45 minutes for two I decided to just go with it As you might have seen on Instagram we each enjoyed a Twizzler infused vodka lemonade served in a mason jar and were seated less than half an hour later.
The place is little and quaint, if I had to guess they only have 15 tables and can seat 40 people. Looking at the menu though, I could tell by the descriptions it was going to be an excellent meal. If you remember I have a bit of an obsession with avocado so when I saw a avocado fries listed first on the menu with a description that read “Ripe avocado wedges fried in panko. Don’t sleep on these”I decided they were a must. Delicious.
I am usually a prompt 7pm dinner eater but for some reason our 9pm seating was okay, perhaps because I was so relaxed and there was just so much to look at. I am not quite sure what I was expecting from Washington Heights but it certainly was not this adorable little eatery with its authentic wood-burning fire, soft mason jar lighting, and eclectic mix of people. Sure, it was packed, but not in the I-can’t-breathe-you-are-crushing-me subway type of crowded but it the homey way.
After we devoured our fries Camilla told me that the peanut butter burger was a must have. I read the description, cringed, and then went for it. She decided to poll our hot waiter with the turkey burger or the pulled pork sandwich. After two minutes of back and forth – and let’s call a spade a spade, flirting – she went with the pulled pork.
When the food arrived I was starving and kept having to remind myself to eat slowly because it was so good. The burger, “Creamy peanut butter, thick cut brown sugar bacon, new york state cheddar” was an odd combination but the homemade peanut butter mixed with the hot melting cheese on top of the burger was not something I will forget anytime soon. There is no PG way to describe it other than heavenly.
It is hard to tell in these photos but the burgers were branded with a “Harlem Public” stamp on top. Camilla said was hers was delicious and the only reason she ordered a side salad was because she had fries for lunch. (I love that she qualified that, one of the reasons we are friends.) When the bill came I was pleasantly surprised, an appetizer and two entrees for $35, yes please!
It has been a while since I have been to a restaurant that wow-ed me and it reminded me that even though I have my trusty favorites it is so much fun to get out there any try new places. NYC Restaurant week begins on the 16th and my goal is to make a dent on number 73 on my 101 in 1001 list, Visit 5 new restaurants and blog about them. But back to Harlem Public, Verdict: Worth the trip to West Harlem.