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Nov 29, 2008 04:48 PM

Coquine or Harlem?

I have a birthday coming up and my parents want to take me out for dinner. I dont want to chose anything too expensive and I have been curious about these two spots. Any opinions? I am specifically curious about the Harlem menu. I see sides are sold a la carte, so I was wondering if the mains are small enough that one could order a main and a side for themself or are they really more to share for the table?
If you have other suggestions, I am open to that as well, but it must be open on sunday evening.
Thanks in advance!

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  1. I've only been to Harlem once, and my experience was that the portions are huge (and, being rather heavy, very filling). That being said, my husband and I (gluttons that we are) also managed to polish off a side of mac and cheese between us. My advice would be to go in very hungry so that you can try lots of the yummy offerings...

    I enjoy Coquine as well, but Harlem's more interesting.

    Happy Birthday!

    8 Replies
    1. re: torontofoodiegirl

      That's...pretty weird. I found that pretty much all of the dishes we ordered were of fairly average size.

      p.s. Don't forget to try the cornbread.

      1. re: Chester Eleganté

        Everything sounds great. Any main dish recomendations?

        1. re: hungryabbey

          Last time we were there, we had the fried chicken and the short ribs. Both were excellent. I wasn't crazy about the blackened fish we had the time before.

          1. re: Tatai

            I'm with this. I thought the fried chicken the best, followed by the short ribs and pork hock. The jambalaya is weak-sauce. The catfish could potentially be good, but I'd avoid it as well. The brunch and lunch options sound interesting, and a good value.

            1. re: Chester Eleganté

              I dont think I have ever tried pork hock, can someone explain to me briefly what it is?

              1. re: hungryabbey

                Pork hock is a cut of meat taken from just above the trotter and below the shoulder. It's a cheaper cut of meat (but sooo good) and is usually slow-cooked. I like it Chinese-style, the way my Dad makes it. I have also been known to eat the smoked ones from T&T by themselves, with nothing else.

                1. re: always_eating

                  mm, does sound good. I feel like this place is a favourite spot already, and I haven't even been there yet.

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Have fun and report back! Harlem is in my hood but I have never been. But reading about the macaroni & cheese and fried chicken, Winter comfort food here I come!

    2. Harlem's portions are, indeed, enormous. The mains themselves do come with sides; the a la carte sides are also huge and are great for sharing. The candied yams are wonderful, as are the macaroni and cheese and the rice and beans. For me, the only disappointing side is the collard greens: I expected long-stewed, southern-style collards, but Harlem's version seems to be a stir fry.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Tatai

        hm.. my problem is that I am dying to try the mac and cheese but am the only person in my family who eats cheese. Alas, the side would not be shared and I would end up inevitably eating the whole thing and wouldn't have any room for a birthday dessert. I wonder if they would allow me to substitute whatever side the main comes with for the mac and cheese, even for a charge.
        Thanks for your opinions and advice Tatai and Torontofoodiegirl! I look forward to it and will report back

        1. re: hungryabbey

          It doesn't hurt to try, hungryabbey. The waitress who served us (on the downstairs level) both times we were there is a real sweetheart, and very efficient. She was taking orders, serving, and tending bar almost entirely on her own the second time we were there.

            1. re: hungryabbey

              hungryabbey - Harlem is more than happy to pack doggy bags. (Every time my wife and I go, we always get greedy and order too much, and have enough leftovers for lunch the next day.) Not sure if your plans for the rest of the evening make that practical, but it's something to consider.

      2. Finally got my birthday dinner with my family at Harlem,and I need to thank everyone for all of the recommendations for this place! A few notes:
        The room: I like the concept, but I feel the place just needs a bit more housekeeping... I think the decor could be very sexy, even romantic in a quirky sense, but it just lacked class. Still, if the food is good, I really don't care.
        The service: Our young server was very friendly and ensured that drink glasses were consistently refilled and plates were cleared in good time. My only complaint was that we were consistently served food without being given cutlery, napkins (essential when eating ribs!) and plates for sharing apps. After a reminder, however, the issues were all very quickly resolved.
        The food: I took your advice and warned my family not to very much today so as to have enough room to try a few different things. Together we sampled:
        Chicken Lafayette- delicious little nuggets of chicken tossed in a fruity (mango?) hot sauce. Delicious!! Served with a creamy, yet crunchy, coleslaw spiced with curry powder.
        Bourbon Baby Back Ribs- Meaty ribs, free of grissle in a deliciously sweet sauce. Also served with the coleslaw.
        Sweet Potato Hummus and Spiced Walnut Pate- these were some of the best dips I have ever had. Both dips had a complex sweet undertone, served with deliciously light homemade crisps. I would die for these recipes to serve at christmas. I may send off an email.
        Cornbread- Exactly how I like my cornbread. Stuffed with real corn pieces, this cornbread was not the 'dry' variety. It was moist and somewhat lighter than many cornbread's I have tasted before.

        Southern Fried Chicken- served again with the coleslaw. Both of my parents opted for this main, and were not disapointed. The chicken was so crispy outside, perfectly moist inside and was drizzeled with a spicy chili sauce of some sort. I was worried that the sauce would be too hot for my non-foodie mother, but they really added just the perfect amount.
        Braised Short Ribs- Totally fall off the bone in a sweet (but not cloying in any way) molasses gravy. Served with a simple basmati and stewed veggies. It was comfort food at its best.

        Mac and Cheese- I had to try this. And since I'm the only one in the family who eats cheese, I ate it all myself. It was delicious. My only complaint is that there wasn't a crumb topping, but I still really enjoyed it.
        Candied Yams- Forget dessert, just order these babies. Incredibly sweet pieces of yam coated in a thick honey coating.

        Butterscotch Pudding- Better than jello brand, served with a prailine crumble topping of some sort. It was the better of the two desserts, but still nothing special.
        Apple Cranberry Cake- A coffee cake, which was a little dry. But I never really expect much from coffee cake.
        Was a bit dissapointed in the desserts (the only other offering was a brownie, and I'm not a chocolate person), and it seems they really dont keep many on hand. Five minutes after ordering, the only other couple in the restaurant went to order dessert and they were completely sold out of everything. So, I would not recommend showing up at Harlem craving dessert.

        So for 4 apps, 2 sides, 4 mains, 3 beers, 1 pop, and 3 desserts, the bill was $165 after tax, before tip. I think that is a sensational deal for what we got. I would absolutely recommend the restaurant and would also return to try some of the other tempting mains on the menu. Thanks again guys, another successful birthday down.