Tag Archives: Alexander Smalls

DJ Saturdays at The Cecil in Harlem

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DJ Saturdays at The Cecil in Harlem are making Saturday afternoons extra fun. Who doesn’t want a little beat with their bite!  Relax and shake off the week’s worries to the beats of the World, Jazz and Soul music, spun by various DJ’s.

This Saturday March 22 DJ Stormin’ Norman will be spinning from  2- 6pm.  Next Saturday March 29 DJ Center will be spinning from 2 – 6pm.  Check out the DJ schedule below and enjoy great music and food and people at The Cecil in Harlem!

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The Cecil
210 West 118th Street Harlem NY
(212)866-1262
THECECILHARLEM.COM

Harlem’s Opening Night at Minton’s (Review)

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Minton's Jazz

Minton’s Harlem is the rebirth of legendary jazz club Minton’s Playhouse, frequented by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Christian and Dizzy Gillespie, in the 1940s and ’50s.  Owner Richard Parsons (former chairman of Citigroup and the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner) has teamed up with Executive Chef Alexander Smalls and Chef de Cuisine Banks White to create a destination offering an exceptional experience that bridges Harlem’s past, present and future.  Mr. Parsons is also the owner of The Cecil, which is adjacent to Minton’s, and which we previously reviewed (click here for the review).

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Richard Parsons dining on opening night

As we approached the restaurant on one of Harlem’s restaurant rows, the first thing we noticed was the glowing plaque indicating that Minton’s is in The National Register of Historic Places.  That set the tone for the experience that followed.

Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted warmly by the Director of Operations  Beatrice Stein, just as she had when she greeted us at The Cecil, where she holds the same title.

The restaurant is a  wide and long though not cavernous rectangle with spacious ceilings.  It is well lit and beautifully designed with rich warm colors everywhere.  There is a nice bar to the right, and a banquet of tables lining a cloth paneled wall to your left.  You walk through this lounge-like space into the main dining room.  There you find tables lining the walls to your left and right.  Some of the walls are mirrored.  Pictures of Jazz Legends including Dizzie and Billie line the walls.  Off in the distance is a stage with a wonderful mural.  The stage features a beautiful black grand piano.  The tables are a combination of two and four tops draped in crisp white linens.  The chairs are comfortable and the tables nicely sized.  The staff is omni-present, attentive and knowledgeable.

We were seated at the first table to your right as you enter the main dining area.  From there you can take in everything while enjoying some privacy.

There are two dining options, both prix-fixe, one two course, the other a four course.  We opted for the five course.

We started off with cocktails which were generously poured.  The Lady Bird was exceptional.  We also enjoyed a variety of red and white wines throughout the evening, which are available by the glass or the bottle.

While we waited for our meal the musicians assembled and started their first of several sets.   These are top-notch Jazz musicians with years of experience.  They did not disappoint – their performances were the highlight of (and throughout) the evening.

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The first course was an appetizer sampler called the Low Country Experience.  We each received a plate containing nine sections, each with a different appetizer.  The variety was fabulous.  It felt as though the chef’s had traveled the world and selected their best fare for our tasting. Our table could have ordered several bowls of the Fried Okra wrapped in Surryano Country Ham.  Other favorites included Deviled Egg Toast with Smoked Trout and Pickled Shallot, Creminis stuffed with creamed collard greens, and Beau Soleil Oysters, Champagne Mignonette Ossetra Caviar.

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The second course consisted of Sherry She Crab Soup with Crisp Yam and Skillet Bread, Winter Apple Salad with Candied Black Walnuts, Butter Lettuce and Smoked Crabapple Vinaigrette, and Roasted Parsnip and Kabocha Squash Soup with Benne Seed Crunch and Brown Butter Creme Fraiche.

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The third course consisted of Smothered Lobster & Shrimp Caserole with Creole Crawfish Gravy an Nora Mills Pimento Cheese Grits, Wagyu Ribeye with Bone Marrow Butter, Chanterella Mushrooms, Sweet Potato Pave and Blacktruffle Glace Deviande, and Pan Seared Venison with Carmelized russel Sprouts, Dumpling Squash and Huckleberry Gastrique.

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The fourth course included Minton’s rendition of Banana Cream Pie with Sable Breton, Sour Cremem Mousse and Banana Sorghum Ice Cream.  And blackberry Cobbler with Brown Sugar Bisquit and Cornbread Ice Cream (and I asked for the requisite cool glass of milk).  We ended the evening with a round of smooth and soothing Cognac.

During and after our meal Beatrice Stein, Alexander Smalls and Banks White were kind enough to stop by.  We of course let them know how much we enjoyed our time, and assured them that we would be back.

MINTON’S HARLEM Jazz Supper Club

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206 W 118th Street (St. Nicholas & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd)
New York, NY 10026
Reservations: (212)243-2222
Monday – Thursday: 5-11PM
Friday – Saturday – 5-Midnight
www.MintonsHarlem.com

Harlem CDC Ribbon Cutting at Richard Parson’s Supper Club Minton’s and The Cecil

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Harlem Community Development Corporation (Harlem CDC), state and local officials, and community leaders will celebrate the opening of a Harlem landmark with a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly restored Minton’s and The Cecil restaurants on Saturday, November 2nd at 12:00 pm.

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The event will take place at Minton’s which is located at 206 West 118th Street, Harlem, NY.

SPEAKERS | Owner of Minton’s & The Cecil, Former CEO of Time Warner & Chairman of CitiGroup Richard Parsons, Restaurateur & Executive Chef of The Cecil & Minton’s Alexander Smalls, U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, NYS Senator Bill Perkins, NYS Assembly member Herman D. Farrell, Jr.,
NYS Assembly Member & Chairman of the Harlem Community Development Corporation’s Board of Directors Keith L.T. Wright, NYC Council Member Inez E. Dickens, Housing and Services, Inc. James M. Dill, and Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams.
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Minton’s
The Cecil
The Cecil (review by HarlemCondoLife)
Minton’s (review by HarlemTrends)

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  

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