HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

Near Disaster at Harlem

Yesterday was my birthday. My very sweet SO made a dinner reservation about a week ago at Harlem (Richmond and Church Streets). When we arrived, the small dining room was packed, dominated by a party of 12 near the door.

We were shown to a table at the back -- opposite the bar and perilously close to the kitchen. The table was in a narrow hallway and near a side door. We sat down, but there was a noticeable draft from the door (it was -25 c last night). The wait staff brushed up against us everytime they picked up an order. We ordered drinks and endured for about 15 minutes and then calmly told the bartender that we wanted to pay for our drinks because we were leaving. I said that I understood that the restaurant was busy, but that it was unfair and bad business to sacrifice a party of 2 for a party of 12. I added that I felt my birthday dinner had been ruined.

She asked us to wait saying she wanted to speak to Jervis ( Executive Chef) and then dissapeared into the kitchen. She came back with Jervis who asked me if I was the birthday girl. I said yes, and he told me not to worry that he was going to move us to a table upstairs and take care of our bill.

We ended up sitting on the stage on the second floor (also packed) under the glow of a spinning disco ball. My SO had Jambalaya which he loved. I had the bourbon rib appetizer and we shared sides of corn bread, greens and rice and beans. Everything was delicious and quite spicy.

Kudos to Jervis-- his quick thinking saved my birthday dinner. If we'd left the restaurant after having drinks, we would have never returned. We'll definitely be back.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. And kudos to you for giving them a chance to correct your situation. Just another reason to love Harlem.

    1. Perhaps a better title to this thread might be Near Disaster at Harlem Averted or something as such

      1. Classy move. This is why a restaurant succeeds. Well, that and really really good fried chicken.

        1. I'm glad it worked out for you, but really... you expect them to ignore a party of 12 for 2? I would be upset in your situation and would probably take the same action. Kudos to Jervis for stepping up. Class like this is needed for restaurants to survive in tough economic times.

          1. Good stuff. We ate there on Friday night and were quite pleased.

            I'll give my 2c review since I was gonna do it on another thread.

            table of 4, Jambalaya (Me), Fried Catfish (Mrs. Sippi) shared Mac and Cheese. BBQ Chicken (Sister), Fried Chicken (BIL) shared cornbread.

            Jambalaya was really good but mine is much better IMHO. I didn't see the point of adding greens and found the sausage choice a bit odd. It tasted like pepperoni.

            Fried Catfish was also good from the sample I had. Mrs. Sippi said that it was great and the etouffee topping was also great. However the whole wasn't any better than the sum of it's parts.

            Fried Chicken I tried was good. My BIL doesn't like dark meat and forgot to ask for only white so he didn't eat the drumstick. He's also a very picky eater. He thought it was okay.

            BBQ Chicken, my sister was happiest with her meal. She said the chicken was really good but the BBQ sauce was incredible. So much so she got the recipe. Or at least the ingredients.

            Mac and Cheese was really good. Exactly what it should've been.

            Cornbread was a surprise with chilies in it. It was very tasty.

            The staff were great. Attentive enough which was great considering they were setting up/dealing with a large party.

            DT