What do you most associate with Harlem, the Upper West Side’s culturally diverse and historically rich neighborhood? If one of the things on the top of the list isn’t dining, then you’re doing something wrong.
Harlem is rapidly becoming the trendy, go-to area for an extensive variety of cuisines. Restaurants, speak-easies, cocktail bars, and more are continually popping up – so much so that it now has its own bonafide restaurant row. Where else can you get Senegalese, Somalian, Soul Food, or world-class cookies (Levain Bakery, anyone?) all in the same place?
If you’re looking for a fun, classy spot to share a whole bunch of delicious things with your friends,you need to try out the Row House. With both vintage and contemporary design elements, the atmosphere is lively, bright, and stylish. The cuisine is New American (always a tough one to pin down), and offers a large selection of (mostly) small plates meant to be shared. Tapas style almost.
The cocktails are on-point. Definitely try the Funky Strong, a beet-infused vodka with ginger, mint, and lime, garnished with a vodka-soaked beet slice. It’s colorful and surprisingly excellent. Don’t let the beets intimidate you!
The menu is broken up into four sections: harvest, sea, land, and large plates. Chef Andrew Welch offers innovative takes on American classics. For example, deviled eggs are offered in two ways, neither of which are traditional: chicken liver mousse, pickled shallots, candied mustard seeds, and cilantro; and the “summer” deviled eggs with vibrant, beet brined eggs.
I don’t usually opt for salads, so when I say the kale and quinoa salad is fantastic, you can take my word for it. First off, it’s gorgeous. With purple and golden beets, goat cheese, and fennel, topped with a crispy squash blossom, it was a work of art. Throw in crunchy prosciutto and hazelnuts and – boom! – perfection.
From the sea selection, we ordered the shrimp and grits with creamy, cheesy polenta, jalapeño, and satisfying bits of salty chorizo; New England lobster roll sliders with the classic Old Bay mayo; and the fish tacos, which came with a lovely radish, jicama-jalapeño slaw. The seafood was fresh, and the combinations of flavor utilized in each plate was outstanding. Other options included the grilled Spanish octopus with eggplant and summer squash and lobster croquettes with a savory risotto.
For the land selection, I insisted we get the carbonara dumplings. With parmesan cream on the inside, and crisp prosciutto on top, they were bites of pure indulgence. I’d like to point out that The Row House really does prosciutto right – it complements the flavors of the dishes so well. Other dishes include lollipop chicken drumsticks with an Asian soy sesame glaze and the steak tartare with crispy capers and homemade potato chips.
The large plates range from braised short ribs with black truffle and a five-spice glaze; lamb chops; and a traditional New York Strip with veal jus; to king salmon with beets and leek; truffle grilled cheese with bacon; and branzino with a crystalized ginger broth.
Desserts here are creative – the molten white chocolate cake comes warm, filled with a white chocolate ganache, and garnished with fresh grapefruit, tangerines, and raspberries. We also couldn’t help but get the red velvet ice cream sandwiches: red velvet cookies stuffed with cream cheese ice cream and rolled in chocolate. No regrets.
Lastly, rumor has it that there’s a lower level speak-easy named Under Bar… Can someone inquire about this and get back to me with the details?