Tag Archives: 67 Orange

Quote: Is Harlem ‘Good’ Now? (Marcus Samuelsson)

Michelle Obama, Marcus Samuelsson via harlemcondolife

“I travel all over the world for work and I am constantly asked to define Harlem. What’s it like, people ask. Is it cool? Is it safe? When I go to places like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to speak among celebrated thinkers and leaders, I’m often asked: Is Harlem good now? I always have to pause before answering. Good compared with what? To when? These questions all miss the mark. Is Harlem good now? That is a question loaded with long-held ideas about race and class, one that dismisses the complex, vital history of this neighborhood and its people, their contributions to civil rights and art, under one word: “bad.”

From the following op ed:  http://nyti.ms/1fnop73

You can find books and more by and about Marcus and Harlem on HarlemCondoLife’s new and improved store located here.

The Cecil Restaurant in Harlem (Review)

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The Cecil Restaurant in Harlem

We recently dined at Harlem’s newest upscale restaurant The Cecil. It was a night to remember.  And we look forward to our next visit.

The Cecil was created by New York businessman Richard Parsons and chef Alexander Smalls.  It is “New York City’s first Afro-Asian-American brasserie…Inspired by the travels, exploration and study of the African Diaspora of Chef Smalls.  The Cecil will offer a global adventure in tastes and flavors as diverse and dynamic as the community in which the restaurant resides. Its goal is to connect communities through food, comfort and hospitality.”

Alexander Smalls of Cafe Beulah fame is in charge of the food here and at Minton’s which is just next door and will be opening this month.  Joseph Johnson, known as Chef JJ, is in the kitchen.  And Jenny Lee is the pastry chef.

The Cecil is in lower central Harlem, a few blocks north from the 2/3 train, the Harlem Meer in Central Park, and adjacent to Jazz club Minton’s, formerly known as Mintons’ Playhouse, which is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Our party of four entered through the main door.   The receptionists to our right greeted us warmly and whisked us passed tables along a long window bank to the right and a large bar area to the left into a beautiful, high ceilinged, spacious room – completely unexpected and a refreshing surprise.

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The Cecil – Press Release

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We were fortunate enough to be seated at the chef’s table which is a wonderful booth located such that we could take in the comings and goings of staff and diners all evening long.

The service was excellent and attentive from beginning to end.   This was no doubt a tribute to Beatrice, the Director of Operations, who has known one of our fellow diners for many years, and who spent time with us throughout the night.

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We started our meal with several wonderful cocktails made by bartenders whose pedigree includes one of the city’s best bars 67 Orange, where making fine drinks is an art form.

We were then presented with an assortment of appetizers.  The Hand-Made Bread Basket was tasty and included several dipping sauces that were smooth and rich.  The Collard Green Salad and the Spinach and Black Lentil Salad were fresh, crisp and very well seasoned.  The Afro / Asian / American Oxtail Dumplings were nestled in a smooth sauce with a hint of curry and were mouth-watering.  The Broiled Giant Spicy Prawns were fiery with a Piri Piri Sauce resting on a flavorful Yam Flapjack.  And the Spicy Crispy Ginger Squid was also good paired with Okra and accompanied by a Sweet Chili Peanut Sauce.  The appetizers  were plentiful and a delicious preview of the main courses to come.

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Our main courses consisted of the very flavorful Rice and Vegetable Wok Bar with Sweet Brown Rice and Wok Prawns, Moist Gullah Jumbo Shrimp Burger, perfectly cooked Grilled Beef Petite Tenderloin and delicious Black Benne Seed Ahi Tuna.  Conversation at our table stopped as we enjoyed every bite of our meals.  Difficult as it was to share, we all tried a little of each others’ meals.  The steak was especially memorable – large, lean, grilled and savory.  The Ahi Tuna was PERFECT.  Nice sized pieces cooked rare with Bok Choy, Coriander Yusu, Curry Crunch along with Chinese Sausages.  Really unique and worth trying.  Also highly recommended by Alexander Smalls himself was the Cinnamon Scented Fried Guinea Hen.  We will have to try this on our next visit.

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Black Benne Seed Ahi Tuna

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Our meal was topped off with a variety of warm and cold treats, one of which was a rice pudding creme brûlée accompanied with lycgee ice cream.  Amazing.

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Rice Pudding Creme Brûlée

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During our stay our meal was punctuated by visits from Alex and Beatrice, as well as our wonderful server, all of whom helped us navigate the richness of the experience that is Cecil’s.

The crowd was cosmopolitan and well dressed.  The Saturday night that we were there, Melissa Harris-Perry and Joy-Ann Reid were sitting in the bar / lounge area, and the following evening, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon stopped by for dinner.

The decor consists of dark tones and leathers with mesh textures.  The entrance lounge and bar area are separate from the main dining room  - we really liked the layout.  At night with the lighting, artwork and grand scale of everything, this really comes into full effect.  The space is airy, has a wide variety of seating options, soaring ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows with just the right kind of blinds (almost appeared as a mesh like material from where we were sitting) to keep things private while not closing you in.  Their artwork is very interesting, big in scale yet not busy or overcrowded.  Better to have a few select pieces of art than many mediocre ones. One of our favorites is a sculpture of sorts which is the centerpiece of the bar, and which is really not to be missed.  The light fixtures are very interesting as well.  In particular the one below which is located in the entrance.

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Lighting in the entrance

The food is a collage of flavors from afrika and asia, so well blended that they will have you longing for another visit.

The Cecil
210 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10026
(212) 866-1262
thececilharlem.com  

Previous post (NEW) The Cecil – Opens Today In Harlem

67 Orange Street – Prix Fixe Menu Available Until 10/15

67 Orange Street is offering their prix fixe menu until October 15, 2012.  We have only four more nights to enjoy their spectacular (and dubbed as Harlem’s finest) signature cocktails along with an appetizer and entree at a discount price of $30.12.  They are offering their prix fix menu between the hours of 6:00 to 10:00PM.  See the list below  for details on the cocktails, appetizers and Entrees offered on the prix fixe.

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www.67orangestreet.com

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Harlem Arts Festival Gala a Huge Success

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Harlemcondolife.com @HarlemHCL

The Harlem Arts Festival gala fundraising event on May 16 at the Alhambra Ballroom was a smashing success raising $6,000 bringing the total amount of money raised to over $18,000 with all proceeds going directly to artists.

The Harlem Arts Festival’s mission is:

“To produce a multidisciplinary arts festival, showcasing local performers and visual artists that will inspire and nourish the artistic community in Harlem. It aims to promote arts education and literacy by implementing arts-related discussion forums, educational workshops, performance opportunities and activities for youth and family. This project will be part of Harlem’s addition to the larger, citywide commitment to provide free art in the public parks during the spring and summer months.”

The event was well attended with stylishly dressed benefactors and performers and founding members of the organization. The tables had beautiful centerpieces, with well dressed waitstaff circulating drinks and tending an open bar.

A diverse group of artists provided the evening’s entertainment.  Artists included Saxophonist Ben Barson, a recent Harlem resident and one of the artists selected for the upcoming Harlem Arts Festival.

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Queen Esther, with Dan Rosengard on piano, and Briana Thomas, with Conun Pappas Jr. on piano.  A special dance performance by eight children of the Ballroom Basix program, a Harlem-based nonprofit non-competitive dance program that teaches children ballroom and Latin dancing skills.

For me the highlight of the evening was singer Brianna Thomas, a vocalist, teacher, composer and arranger who reminds me of my sister and who is very talented and who brought the house down.  Below is my favorite performance.  Please visit HarlemCondoLife.com on YouTube for more videos.

I also enjoyed catching up with  founding members J.J. El-Far, Neal Ludevig and Chelsea Goding and Sakita Holley, Founder & CEO of the House of Success, all of whom impressed me with their stories of how things came to be and their passion and commitment.

My only regret is not having won anything at the silent auction, which included paintings, and offerings from Land Yoga and 67 Orange.  But clearly the event did well, which is of great pleasure to me.

The inaugural Harlem Arts Festival is scheduled to take place in the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park June 29-30. Out of a pool of 75 applicants, 35 artists have been selected to be part of the festival.

“There’s a very rich, creative legacy here in Harlem, but there is also a lot of talent here right now,” said J.J. El-Far, Harlem Arts Festival’s creative director. “We wanted to create a festival that celebrates all of the arts. Our artists have a diverse array of talents and they all have roots or connections here.”

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