“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.”
We recently visited The Park 112 for dinner on a Wednesday night in December. The Park is conveniently located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 112th Street (Harlem Restaurant Row) sandwiched in-beween 67 Orange and the 5 and Diamond Restaurants. Great atmosphere. Its large open multi optional space provides many different seating options. The attractive long raised center communal table sets the mood for potential large get togethers or a table for two sitting across from one another. There are two additional raised tables separate from the communal table near the back. Along the south wall comfortable leather banquettes run the full length of the place with 2 and 4 top seating. The opposite (north) wall is a long attractive bar scene that was festive and full of life when we arrived. We will definitely be back for drinks in the near future.
We arrived early and there were only a few tables but by 9 pm the restaurant was comfortably full. They have a great section in the way back that would be an ideal VIP area or place for a private party with high grand tufted leather banquettes (see photos of interior below).
The speciality cocktails are delicious. I recommend The Park 112 – sparkling wine, pavan orange blossom liqueur, crop meyer lemon vodka & pomegranate in a champagne flute glass. Also The Frederick Douglass – bullet bourbon, chili passion fruit puree, rimmed with chili sugar. WARNING it is hot! I enjoyed the extra heat but another person in my group found it too hot. They also have a Self-Serve Wine Machine. A unique exploration of respectable wines through self-service enomatic machines. This allows the patron to enjoy tastes, half glasses and full pours of a continually rotating list of favorite vintages. Definitely a unique concept and cool addition for Harlem restaurant row.
We spoke extensively with owner Lewis Tucker and chef Kingsley John who were both enthusiastic and accommodating with information about the Park 112 finally opening. Lewis Tucker who has lived in Harlem, Westchester and the Bronx for years, was the president of Sean Combs Enterprises and he ran Bad Boy Records. Tucker’s list of credentials are too long to list and include being a co-founder of Essential Sports. No stranger to the scene, he explained he wanted to bring a downtown vibe uptown and literally picked this location and designed it with this purpose in mind. In addition to the large interior space, there will be an outdoor private patio in the back once the nice weather rolls around in late Spring. We saw the raw fenced in space and were surprised by how large it was. This has the potential to be very trendy for the summer months ahead and unique to this area. We have a lot of sidewalk seating now in the neighborhood for the summer months – Harlem Food Bar, Vinateria, Harlem Tavern, Harlem Shake, The Corner Social, Jado Sushi, etc., but no private outdoor patio options with the excepotion of Ricardos in East Harlem and one or two other spots.
The menu is multifaceted. Globally inspired small and large plates I would describe as American /Global Fusion/Caribbean with several options for every budget. We ordered before we met chef Kingsley John and after speaking with him we were all left wanting to come back to try recommendations that we hadn’t ordered. Chef John, a native of the West Indies, has worked in the kitchen under Marcus Samuelsson at Aquavit and is passionate about the small and large plates he has created. I’m not a big soup fan but was encouraged to try the carrot ginger soup. It was so good. We also enjoyed the duck lettuce wraps, lobster spring rolls, teriyaki lollipops and crispy prawns. Next time I’d like to try the smoked sea scallops and fried oysters which looked tasty at the table next to ours. The butterflied branzino with head on (large plate) was delicious! Priced at $28 but worth the coin. We also had the spiced crusted rack of lamb and the park 112 steak frittes rib eye. The fries with the steak were decoratively sculptured side by side forming a sort of circular cup-like design. A+ for presentation. There is something for everyone here on the menu. After speaking with Kingsley, we discussed our next visit and how we’d like to focus exclusively on all the Caribbean dishes.
Great desserts. I could have one of their chocolate mousses (pictured below) every day. We sampled several desserts together including the lava cake but I ultimatley stopped sharing the mousse and claimed it as mine. I need it again soon. They are now also open for Sunday Brunch. Visit their menu for all small plates, large plates and brunch items. Another great addition to the neighborhood. Stop in and check out the Park 112 for yourself.
Celebrity chef, restaurateur and author Marcus Samuelsson has joined ABC’s cooking competition show The Taste as its newest mentor.
Chef Samuelsson joins chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain, British food star Nigella Lawson and chef and author Ludo Lefebvre as they begin production on the show’s second season.
The Taste is an exhilarating two-hour cooking competition program that puts 16 culinary competitors — from professional chefs to home cooks alike — into a pressure cooker of a kitchen where one blind spoonful of their culinary creations are served to four of the world’s most notable chefs and food experts to determine who stays and who is eliminated from the competition.
“Marcus is a world-renowned chef with an infectious passion for food,” said Executive Producer Chris Coelen. “He’s a perfect fit to work with and compete against Anthony, Nigella and Ludo on Season Two of The Taste.”“I am thrilled to be joining The Taste,” said Chef Samuelsson. “I’m looking forward to working alongside such an esteemed group of culinary figures and discovering new talents.”
"For as long as I can remember, I've had Africa on my mind." Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson may be best known for his innovative take on Scandinavian cuisine at New York's Restaurant Aquavit, but his story begins thousands of miles away, in Africa. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, his life transcends national boundaries, and his individual approach to cuisine is a global yet personal one that draws freely from many ethnic and cultural influences.
In The Soul of a New Cuisine, Marcus returns to the land of his birth to explore the continent's rich diversity of cultures and cuisines through recipes and stories from his travels in Africa. Stunning color images by award-winning photographer Gediyon Kifle bring the breadth of the African experience to life, from fishermen at sunset off the coast of Zanzibar to French baguettes loaded onto a bicycle in Senegal.
Marcus shares more than 200 enticing recipes, including his own African-inspired creations and traditional dishes from all parts of Africa. You can delight in spicy stews and Barbequed Snapper from West Africa and the familiar Mediterranean flavors of dishes like Moroccan Lemon-Olive Chicken, or make your way east and south for the irresistible taste combinations of dishes such as Curried Trout with Coconut-Chili Sauce from Kenya and Apple-Squash Fritters from South Africa's Cape Malay. Using ingredients that are readily available in American markets, the recipes are doable as well as delicious.
Of course, one of the keys to authentic African cooking is the use of spice blends and rubs, which elevate simple cooking techniques to an excitingly varied and intense level. Marcus includes his favorites here, with blends that go from sweet to spicy and feature everything from hot chili peppers and peppermint leaves to sesame seeds and ginger.
As he says, Africa is "a state of mind that I hope this book will help you tap into wherever you are." By cooking with a handful of this and a pinch of that, trying new foods and enjoying old ones in a new way, and lingering over meals with family and friends, you will bring the free, relaxed spirit of African cooking to your table and discover for yourself the soul of a "new" cuisine.
The Maysles Documentary Center in association with Zero Point Zero Production and The New York Society for Ethical Culture is proud to present a conversation about film and food with Anthony Bourdain and Albert Maysles, moderated by Michaela Angela Davis and featuring special guest Marcus Samuelsson. We will feature clips from legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles’ genre defining work in film, and Emmy award winning chef, author and travel journalist Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown television series. Join us as the two speak about the art of auteur filmmaking, serendipitous dining, and how cameras connect diverse peoples around the globe. All proceeds to benefit the Maysles Documentary Center.
A Note on Tickets:
Tickets are available for the event only at $65.00 by selecting 7:30pm Wed, Dec. 11th below.
Tickets are available for the pre-reception and the event for $125.00 by selecting 6:00pm, on Wed. Dec. 11th below.