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La Marmite in Harlem

Has anybody tried this place? I've passed by it a few times, wondering about it. Anything that I should try specifically, being that it would be my first time? What kind of food do they have?



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  1. I've never eaten there but I've passed it several times... lately, on my way to eat at Florence's. I believe they serve Senegalese food for lunch and add a few French-influenced specials in the evening. I do want to try it. There are posters on this board who say it is wonderful.

    1. I've seen several posts about it. Try doing a quick search and you should get some fairly recent feedback. Personally, never tried it but a friend who did wasn't especially impressed.

      1. the lamb is great, slathered with a spicy onion sauce. two huge lamb shanks for $12 (served with a lifetime supply of rice or attieke or other accompaniment choices). the white meat chicken is pretty good (slathered with the same sauce), and better than the somewhat scrawny half chicken option. the menu is pretty small, and they don't necessarily have everything on it at all times. it's got about zero atmosphere, but appears pretty popular with cab drivers.

        La Marmite
        2264 Frederick Douglass Avenue (at 121st St)

        1. The Cheb Jeune, a Senegalese staple - which R. Sietsema aptly describes as an "African fish paella", is the best I've tasted in NYC (have also tried this dish at Africa Kine and Baobab amongst other places). Their fish serving, is more generous and tender than at other places. This dish is a heaping plate of goodness - the fish, the grain, along with huge chunks of carrot and potato(?), are piled high, with a unique green hot sauce off to the side, and slathered with a sheen of palm oil - a signature element of the recipe. The portion is big enough for two.

          I have also heard great things about the Mafe - lamb or beef cooked in peanut butter sauce - but have yet to try it.

          This is one of my favorite restaurants. It is small, friendly, laid back and unpretensious. Eat hearty, and enjoy.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Polecat

            I second Polecat on all counts. And while there's not much in decoration they make up for it in friendliness (if you throw around your meager French) and bouncin' African tunes (though it can also be that of American Idol contestants on TV.)

            1. re: Spoony Bard

              I've only had dinner there. Like many of the West African places, the dinner menu is mostly grilled meats, and the lunch menu has the sauces (mafe, feuilles). The thieboudienne at dinner is a good idea -- as said, it really is a huge, fresh portion of fish and vegetables, although I don't recall the spices as being as integrated into the rice as I expected, but that's not a big deal unless you are going there with a very specific image of this dish in mind. I have found the chicken to be dry and dull, but the sauces were very good. I'm not hugely inspired to head back at dinner, but I very much want to go at lunch. Friendly people.

              1. re: mary shaposhnik

                Definitely lunch. I'm surprised they even had the theibou djenne for dinner- in my experience they run out in the afternoon.

          2. Another item on my to-do list.

            1. FYI, they are opening a second restaurant on 7th Avenue between 133rd and 134th.

              1. Hmm, I'm goign to have to put it back on my list. I ate there a lot when I first moved uptown but stopped a few years ago after a few over greasy meals and stomach upsets. But all these positive recent reviews are making me rethink my avoidance.

                1. I was sad to notice that La Marmite on Frederick Douglass has closed. Shuttered tight, with a real estate sign on the door. Any word on their location further uptown?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rose water

                    News flash: La Marmite is open at a new location (or so says a sign tacked to the wall across the street from their old location). If someone checks this out, please report back!

                    172 East 118th St (btwn Lex and 3rd Ave)
                    212 534 6600
                    212 534 6698

                    1. re: rose water

                      Have you been to the E. 118th location? The one on 8th Ave in the 130s still has not opened.

                  2. Oh, man. Say it isn't so. Uptownflavor, in an above-post on this thread, mentioned a second restaurant, on 7th. Here's hoping its' true. There are other decent Senegalese places, but this was my favorite.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Polecat

                      Yeah, Uptownflavor's comment is the source of my news too. La Marmite is far far better than Africa Kine, and Les Ambassades. I'm very sad to see them gone in this neighborhood, and really hope they're uptown. I know they had a website (with an unintuitive address) posted on signs on their windows, but I wasn't able to find it.

                      FYI, Polecat, your comments made it to the chow digest: http://www.chow.com/digest/1633

                      1. re: rose water

                        Thanks for the heads-up, RW. For those who've never tried Cheb Jeunne, I was misquoted, in the Digest, as saying the fish is "garlicky". Not so. If there's a better version of this dish than what was served up at La Marmite, let me at it.

                        1. re: Polecat

                          The version at Les Ambassades is fantastic, but they only have it during Ramadan. Not having tried it at La Marmite, I can't tell you how it compares.

                          On a different note, another great option in the neighborhood is the newish Ethiopian place Zoma, which I finally went to for the first time last night. I'll write a longer post on it when I get some time, but I found the food bright and flavorful, not too greasy, and really affordable. I'm a big big fan. More info here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/342468

                    2. To follow up on the location further uptown, they are coming right along with getting it prepped to open. It is a larger location that is in the middle of the block between 133rd and 134th. It is about a block or two away from Harlem Grill. Rose you may want to add your review to the Zoma thread that is already going. They have been receiving wonderful reviews here and in the mass media.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Uptownflavor

                        Does anyone know the exact street address and scheduled opening date for La Marmite?

                        1. re: steveaparis

                          The phone number still works. I'm sure you can get the information if you call
                          212 666-0653

                          1. re: Uptownflavor

                            does anyone happen to know if la marmite serves thieb rouge?
                            with the tomato sauce? or is it just white rice?


                      2. I went to the location on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd last month for dinner and was extremely disappointed. Every item we ordered was obviously cooked at least a day, if not 3 days, before and harshly reheated. It seemed like the chicken had been refried; it was extremely tough and dessicated. The fish was fishy and again seemed twice-fried. I was sort of shocked that they served us this crap with a straight face, on a Saturday night at 7pm.

                        1. I ws in a cab with an driver from Ivory Coast just this last weekend, and I mentioned I was inWest Africa, and started to talk about Mafe, the first food I had in Senegal, at a makeshift restaurant in someones front yard. It was amazing, and I asked where in NYC can I find some. He gave me two locations, the one I did not put to my cell phone was the one he said was the better of the two. The other one was 116th Street, and I think it is this place you are talking about, La Marmite.

                          I am too tired and lazy now to read this thread, but I think I will just go there, and order up some Mafe.

                          Years ago just after I got back from Senegal and Gambia I was told some location like this. I never went then was too busy. If it is still there after over 5 years, they must be doing something correct.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: jonkyo

                            No, La Marmite is now on Adam Clayton Powell in the low 130s. Back when it was further south, it was on Frederick Douglass and 122ish. There are lots of other Senegalese places on and around 116th, between Lenox and Frederick Douglass.

                            1. re: rose water

                              Thank you for that information.

                              I will be visiting there soon.


                              1. re: rose water

                                Sorry, no, La Marmite has been supplanted by a bistro called Yatenga. I don't believe they serve mafe.

                                La Marmite
                                2269 7th Ave, New York, NY 10030

                                2269 7th Ave, New York, NY 10030

                                1. re: DaveCook

                                  I went to Houlaymatou middle of 116 btw Madison and Park. This is basically Senegalese, as the server was from there and as far as I could tell most of the dishes were the pan west african kind.


                                  The food I had was lamb, with the usual accompany of slightly cooked onions loaded on top of the meat, similar to CHebujian (spelliing?


                                  It was Chevre, goat, as ubiquitous in Senegal as their former colonial country's manufacturer, Peugeot. Here they are together: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3118/3...

                                  The portions were huge, thin slabs of long meat cuts, spiced with a very nice flavor, and included the bone, and many I simply ate by hand. This entre was with choice of rice or a very large salad that consisted of romaine lettuce, tomatos and raw onion. THere house dressing was good and seemed to be made in house.

                                  No a bad place but more curious of their stews, so a second trip is needed.

                                  No Mafe.

                                  The fried plantos were so good, similar to this photo: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4115/4...

                                  62 E 116th St, New York, NY 10029

                              2. re: jonkyo

                                For mafe, try Keur Coumba, 125 West 116th, between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell.

                                Keur Coumba
                                125 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

                                1. re: DaveCook

                                  Thank you on that. I will check it out.