Friday, August 27, 2010

☞ EAT: Did 5 & Diamond Close Recently?

Walking by 5 & Diamond on recent nights, folks might assume that the restaurant has shuttered its doors since it has been locked up in the past week. The restaurant just north of 112th Street on FDB/8th Avenue was Harlem's first entry into the celebrity chef arena and now it seems that major changes are at hand. The sign posted on window states that the restaurant is currently under renovations and will be open again on August 27th (today). This might make better sense when reading the past EATER article on how founding chef Ryan Skeen is slowly fazing out of his partnership with the establishment: LINK. New York magazine reports that new chef David Santos has been introducing his own stamp to the restaurant recently and will be having a special tasting menu set up for 35 guest this coming Monday, August 30th, at $85 per person : LINK. Call for reservations to see what the new 5 & Diamond is all about: 646-684-4662. UPDATE: Yesterday, New York magazine just revealed David Santos is leaving 5 & Diamond: LINK

39 comments:

  1. Good luck to them at those price points.

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  2. Had a great time eating here. The burger was delicious. Hopefully all is well. Went to Nectar last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Service and food were both excellent. Hopefully the Harlem eateries will continue to improve in the service department. Chocolat, sorry, you guys are still too expensive for me!

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  3. No one should be offended if one is priced out of a local establishment. It is very important for everyone to realize that restaurants (and all retail/service establishments) target a certain demographic. Places like 5 & Diamond with a higher price point are clearly targeting a customer with a higher level of disposable income, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, free spending residents are critical for Harlem to attract good retail, as this is needed to offset the disproportionate percentage of low-income residents locally.

    You certainly don't have to stretch yourself to patronize an establishment that is priced above your comfort level, but let us not summarily dismiss these establishments that are still contributing to the continued improvement of Harlem and attracting new residents to the area from other parts of the city. And just maybe, the next time you are planning a extra special night out with someone you care about, you will appreciate having upscale options in Harlem, rather than having to take your dollars downtown.

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  4. I agree with Harlemfanatic -- having a variety of establishments is a great thing. Many of them will necessarily have different target customers.

    Although it's not a place I'd eat every day, I've been impressed with 5 & Diamond and have found them to be "worth it." Not everyone has to agree, as long as they are drawing the business they need.

    It's worth nothing they've rolled out a $5 happy hour menu pretty recently. They appear inclined to continue to experiment and evolve their menu offerings and price points -- which I think is a good sign, increasing the likelihood that they'll find a uniquely successful formula.

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  5. And by "it's worth nothing," I of course meant that "it's worth noting"...

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  6. Oh, I think if you can afford a very expensive meal enjoy it. I just don't know if that area is able to support those prices six days a week all year round and am unsure if the area is going to support a destination restaurant at this point in time. Both because of the economy and the area.

    I would think it would make better business sense to go mid-price and establish a loyal following first but hey--good luck to 'em.

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  7. I like 5 & Diamond's approach. They offer something that is a little bit different than your typical Shake Shack burger and they deliver.
    A restaurant could charge $100 for a burger if they wanted and if the demand exists they will succeed. The DB double truffle burger goes for $120 ;) Hope to give Chocolat a go some time soon and there is every chance their burger will build an uptown reputation of it's own.

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  8. Chocolat is too expensive AND they want to know if you would like to add $1 to your bill for scholarships for poor neighborhood children. Why don't they donate $1 from their overpriced menu?

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  9. Look, I follow this stuff very closely. Trust me, today's Harlem is more than capable of supporting this kind of establishment. As you are well aware, Harlem real estate is no longer "cheap" by historical standards (although it is clearly more affordable than comparable living spaces downtown), and many of the more recent transplants to the area are attracted by the improving dining and retail options just as much as the newer housing stock. By most accounts, 5 & Diamond is doing quite well in terms of traffic. Their bigger problem is all of the internal instability at their shop, from the first week mutiny of the floor staff, to abrupt change in kitchen leadership.

    The major problem with Harlem retail today is that there is an major overconcentration of the same types of establishments. Case in point...last year (or maybe two years ago) two buffalo wing restaurants open up just blocks from each other. That is not good for area residents, and it certainly is not good for prospects of each restaurant. We need "different" types of places like 5 & Diamond. Another idea...Harlem lacks a real sports bar. We don't need any more fried chicken, BBQ, check cashing, or hair & nail stores, but that's all we will continue to get if Harlem doesn't prove it can support a more upscale establishment.

    But even if they end up being unsuccessful, entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. Just because it hasn't been done does not mean that it can't be done. The owners have put their capital on the line; let's hope they succeed instead of predicting their downfall.

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  10. harlemfanatic, I am definitely in agreement with your final statement. Every place deserves a chance to succeed. On the UES there were tons of restaurant options and some of the more expensive places fared pretty well. If the quality is there, then paying an extra couple of bucks for something outstanding becomes a little more palatable. The quality HAS to be there, however.

    I hope we start seeing a lot more foot traffic along FDB. For me, that is the most critical factor for success.

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  11. Strongly disagree with Harlemfantic & CBR, 5 & Diamond will be out of business before 2011, and good riddance to them!

    First of all the market (Harlem) will be successful with gradual steps upward, not big giant leaps like 5 & Diamond. We've seen Giant Leaps, they're called Emperor's Roe, Dancy Automotive and their $100K+ cars, B Braxton upscale men's salon, etc. all out of business, predictably, in short order.

    $85 to taste the menu one night? Give me a break! For $85 you can dine at 3 or 4 different very nice places in Harlem and have better experience of Harlem dining in the process of fabulous cuisine. Places like Creole where things you've NEVER had like their Gator Etouffe is $25, and a place that will give the Red Rooster a solid challenge. Or you can go to Ricardo and have a New York Steak, $ 26.00
    Prime Angus, bone out, grilled to perfection served with mashed potatoes and mushroom with gralic spinach.

    The problem is places that never should have opened, open, fail, and blame the market. 5 & Diamond is trying to place "Tribeca sensibilities" in Harlem. 5 & Diamond is relying on typical swanky trendy NYC models. Specifically, follow the narrative of the chef, buy into the PR agency narrative, we (5 & Diamond) are telling you what taste good and what's good taste, and that's it.

    Again, Harlem has never been a place where "Tribeca or trendy swanky Manhattan sensibilities" could be plugged in the landscape, and the community expected to follow.

    That's what takes place with these restaurants that come with full blown hype machines (PR departments). I doubt 5 & Diamond will be able to attract the minimal critical mass it needs to stay in business. People like eating at different places, even people with plenty of Disposable income.

    5 & Diamond should have taken a look at where they are located and instead of trying to attract a key 35 people (paying $85) or $2975 total in one night, tried to attract 150 different people over 5 consecutive nights by having $20 tickets for 30 people. They might have been able to establish a much higher number of regulars...plus people talk.

    I say good riddance to 5 and Diamond for trying to plug Tribeca Sensibilities into Harlem! Tribeca sensibilities are those of "sheep". Basically they read Time Out NY and The New Yorker, they're told what's good, what's not, and follow the narrative of the trend makers (PR driven stuff.....very similar to fashion and how fashion works...the culture is defined and determined by PR, a machine with revenue and profit as its function). 5 & Diamond like Emperor's Roe, like Dancy Autmotive, like B Braxton Upscale Men's salon and all out of place in Harlem. They can work in other places, but not Harlem.

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  12. Don't always agree with Reynolds but his point is the point I was trying to make--seems a bit square peg round hole. Once the hype machine moves on to another hot joint. . .

    But, more importantly, doesn't EVERYBODY read The New Yorker?

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  13. We can agree to disagree on the prospects for an establishment, but "good riddance" is clearly indicative of a desire to see failure. That is not good for Harlem. Therefore, I say "good riddance" to this kind of anti-progressive mindset that has plagued Harlem for decades now. Slowly but surely this kind of thinking is being exterminated uptown.

    BTW, Creole is my favorite uptown restaurant. I wish the Harlem blogs would give it more attention.

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  14. Jesus, what's your problem, Reynolds? Have you eaten there? The food is very good--well and thoughtfully prepared from excellent ingredients.

    I was in 5&D this past Sunday. It was a delicious meal. Not inexpensive, but not overpriced considering the type of restaurant.

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  15. tribeca sensitivityAugust 27, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Reynolds and Sanou's Mom - have to disagree with you both. There seems to be enough of us on this blog that like this place to outnumber those that dont. so i have to believe that means there are enough people in harlem who want a place like this.

    and reynolds - your "tribeca sensibility" reference is a joke. just come out and say white when you mean it.

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  16. I don't think Harlem needs 10 upscale restaurants, but I do believe there is room for a handful. 5 & Diamond's entrees are in the mid 20s, equivalent to Ricardo's (which I also love). The tasting menu is not mandatory every night. The prices are really close actually. I'm comparing them on menupages right now.

    I don't think it's fair to compare this to Emperor's Roe or a Luxury Car Dealership. Those are for more niche - to put it simply, Emperor's Roe targets arguably the same clientele, but offered a specialized product that even that clientele would rarely seek out. How many caviar bars are there even in SoHo? And luxury car dealerships? Same thing. You don't really see this in any residential neighborhoods -just on Park Avenue, where it's really a branding thing (they don't make money from those places, much like most of the stores of 5th avenue don't). Let's not compare poorly-thought out, super-niche ideas that aren't common ANYWHERE in Manhattan, to putting in a trendy restaurant with good food in a neighborhood that now has thousands of upper-middle class households.

    That said, I'm not sure 5 & Diamond will succeed - first, MOST restuarants don't succeed. But there appears to be constant owner/chef issues. I think the demand is there though.

    I also agree more restaurants in Harlem should try for mid-level pricing. We don't need 20 5 & Diamonds. We do need a diner, a good cheap Thai place, etc.

    FYI - Ulysses, it appears David Santos has also left 5 & Diamond.

    http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/08/david_santos_follows_ryan_skee.html

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  17. I have not eaten there and so am willing to walk my opinion back a bit.

    But I don't think Reynolds was using Tribeca as a code for white. If I may take the liberty, I think he was referring to young upwardly mobiles who may or may noy live in a neighbourhood but who make a point of frequenting restaurants that are au courant. I wish 5and all the best. I just wonder if there is sufficient local clientele plus trend seekers in the area to support it on an ongoing basis.

    Those of you who have eaten there, has it been full and turning over tables?

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  18. Has anyone actually looked at the link w/NY Mag?
    http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/5-diamond/

    Reader rating, Average 6 out of 10, with quantity 4 expensive($$$$)?

    Add to this the current chef disarray? And this all amounts to "winner" to you all? Expensive mediocrity is desirable? The more I think about it, a 6 out of 10, with 4 $$$$ is pretty much consistent with the condo inventory in Harlem.

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  19. GreenGirl, thanks for the link re. David Santos. What a bizarre situation. I really hope they sort things out b/c the couple of times I have been there for brunch they had a pretty decent crowd.

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  20. non processed creative foodAugust 27, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    I am not sure how anyone can wish any establishment good riddance in Harlem these days. Really, there are so many empty storefronts or nearly out of business businesses in Harlem. Sure things are on an uptick, but walk around anyplace else than FDB and see the remaining blight and any new business should be welcomed, even if it does not suite your personal price point or style. Even FDB has empty storefronts.

    I have eaten at 5 and diamond and yes they have had service issues and consistency issues, but when Ryan was leading the helm that were making really outstanding food. Its a pity that that level of quality cannot maintain itself in Harlem. I am not talking about a decent steak dinner, I am talking creative new taste combinations, and thinking out of the box culinary treats. With a new chef and staff it will be different, maybe less or more important. You never know. But to ridicule 5 and diamond and wish it bad luck because the food appears to fancy or thought out really makes assumptions about the residents of Harlem. Believe it or not there are residents of Harlem that are interested in creative food made with greenmarket products. Yes that cost more, but it is sort of an antithesis to the years or popeyes and little ceasers that has influenced the neighborhood in the past.

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  21. Reynolds93--what's with all the anger? I just don't get why you'd wish failure on a restaurant that makes a go at Harlem? What do you get out of that? Moreover, I'd guess the reviews you found were possibly from people like you--anyone can log in and post whatever they wish. Check out reviews on Yelp for almost anyplace, and you'll see surprisingly bad reviews for many enjoyable establishments throughout New York. Miserable and judgmental people are often the loudest, unfortunately.

    You should try the restaurant and see what you think. You might be pleasantly surprised. (I was.)

    Life's a whole lot sweeter when you stop wishing failure on everyone. Try to let go of some of that anger. No one is forcing you to eat there, just as no one is forcing you to purchase a condo that you think is less than a standard with which you're comfortable. Live and let live, friend.

    You should change your username to schaudenfreude. Much more memorable than Reynolds93.

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  22. One more thing--I'd be curious to know Reynolds93's feelings about Red Rooster. Dreading that one, too? Too much "Tribeca" for ya?

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  23. You all make valid points. I quite frankly welcome the presence of a joint that charges $85 for a tasting menu. Just like I welcome the Hot Wing joint at $5.00. And I am quite sure that many of my contemporaries feel the same. However, one must consider when entering & exiting a place that charges $85 what one must interface with; still run-down buildings, some poverty, drug culture & homeless men soliciting funds as you exit & enter. These places are good; why do I have to go downtown to celebrate my daughters graduation?

    But, the proliferation of these hi-class joints in Harlem should not be the beginning of my end here or anyone elses, especially those of us who've been here through the lean, bad-times. There was a time when Harlem was the flavour of the week for white folks; they came up here to "taste the candy" and then went back home to their respectable lives. Inspite of its blight Harlem was a comfort area for blacks living & working in NYC 'cause once you've dealt with racism and discrimination and having to be disrespected downtown, it didn't matter that you were surrounded with substandard housing, poor or no amenities, etc. You were somewhere where the color of your skin was not the motivating force behind someone doing you a great disservice.

    But these new establishments & the new arrivals that will come and stay here with all the new amenities pose a threat to that comfort zone. I shouldn't have to leave here because my landlord raises the rent to cash-in on the proliferation of $85 tasting menu joints.
    The diversity of commercial/business enterprises now in Harlem is a good thing.

    But these developers must look at the big picture first. I remember back in the late 70's and early 80's a soul food restaurant called Jacks Nest opened in Kips Bay around East 25th Street and then moved to west 52nd Street. It would do well today in Harlem. Yes, some of us schlepped down there for celebratory meals, or workers at Bellevue would patronize it after work and then schlepp back uptown home to Harlem. But its wonderful that we don't have to do that today. I am so tired of going places in mid-town and SOHO, etc and bemoaning, oh I wish we could have this uptown! But at what cost.

    I and many of my contemporaries don't want to leave here but we do consider that many of us will be priced out and have to make that move. Many say that yes, Harlem is changing but does that mean I must move in order for the change to be successful? I can adapt to the new surroundings and occaisionally (after several over-time shifts) afford the $85 tasting menu. But do I have to move for that change to be effected or effective? We AA's have been pushed further, and further north on this little Island since we got here, always to accomodate change, the biggest examples being Seneca Village, Washington Square Park and San Juan Hill. Harlem was a comfort because there were so many of us by 1930, we thought of it as a Homeland and yes, those of us with the initiative failed to really make it a Homeland and now we have the upscale $85 tasting menu joint. Well, homeland or not I don't feel comfortable anymore, I really feel anxious. Everytime I see one of those new sleek glass and steel boxes they call Condos I get nervous. But yet we stay cloaked in others wish that we go away.

    So bring it on, and on and on and lets see what happens. C. Virginia Fields once said that Harlem is for Everybody and as I witnessed Latino & Black Mormon missionaries getting off the #2 train with their luggage I thought of her statement. If it weren't for the changes I would probably have never encountered a Mormon Missionary of color and I am glad I did. But I'm still scared and pray for the future of Harlem.

    Now will one of y'all please help me down from this cross!

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  24. Greg, interesting perspective. You and a lot of others on here have spent far longer than I in Harlem and seem to have a pretty good grasp of the history. I have read a lot about the Harlem of old, but what I fail to understand (and maybe you can educate me on this) is why when all of these incredible brownstones were readily available at a rock bottom price, did more people native to Harlem not take advantage of that and make them home?

    I went to a state school in the UK and like most of my friends, we stayed the course, worked hard, graduated and got on with our lives. It wasn't easy, but at the end of the day, watching your mum and dad do the very best that they could, on very little, was always an inspiration.

    Whenever I see a kid in Harlem out and about late into the evening I always wonder where are his/her parents? Who are the role models? Why aren't they home doing homework? The only way to remain comfortable is by working hard and being the best person that you can. I don't think there is any other way of doing it mate. This goes far beyond glass condos and high-end restaurants. There are a lot of people in Harlem who do work hard and struggle to get by on very little and I empathise with them, but at the same time I also pass SRO's on a daily basis where it is the same people drinking/dealing on the stoop, making a racket late into the night, all the while living on government handouts.

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  25. jesus christ Reynolds, calm the f down!

    i'm in total agreement that places need to be price-appropriate but I'd much rather see a place like 5&Diamond in the neighborhood that has cool interesting food and a nice atmosphere than some bs like Chocolat. the difference between the two being that one seems price-driven to have "upscale" food at a pre-determined price level and the other uses great ingredients which demand high prices passed down to the consumer.

    sure I can't afford it all the time but I know that when I'm able to, it's going to be a great meal. and even so, I wouldnt wish Chocolat to fail even if I don't plan on patronizing it. like seriously, are you that threatened by an $85 tasting menu? that's a normal price for high-end dining. and who cares that it has a 6/10 rating on some website?

    as a lot of people on here have pointed out, it's most likely gonna succeed or fail based on these kitchen shenanigans that keep happening there. demand-wise it seems to be doing just fine.

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  26. When a restaurant in Harlem sends out a press release announcing an $85/head tasting night, and a restaurant that's driven by always connecting a chef to it's business, that on its face is arrogant, a consistent arrogance to 5th on the Park, the condo building. That is "telegraphing" we are only here for 0.5% of the community, that's it, deal with it. That's dumb on it's face. The place has been open long enough to have a customer base, reachable via email - that it should be able to sell out 35 heads discretely without publicly offending the community. I am on the mail list of the 2 wine stores on 8th and get emails from them, aren't you?

    Now few people dispute 5th on the Park is: 1) Out of Place in it's giant proportions relative to it's immediate community. 2) Obstructs sun from a public park. It's very common for people to view 5th on the Park as offensive & arrogant on it's face. How different is 5 & Diamond with it's 6 out of 10 rating and 4 $$$$ price indicator?

    Seriously think about it, it's out of place relative to its community ( this is not tribeca or SoHo or the WV or Grammercy, etc.). And as someone noted and I exemplified, it (5 & Diamond consumes space, the room, gets the attention, while places like Creole and their creative and exotic fair like Gator Etouffe get no attention on this blog, for example). And why? Why does it get "attention"? A chef's name connected to it, or what I call, "unearned stripes". And look what happened, the very thing they marketed, names, have now scattered and left.

    Yes, 5 & Diamond going out of business would serve Harlem well in showing that unlike much of Manhattan, names, PR, press releases alone are not sufficient, we (Harlemites) don't bite like New Yorkers who follow trends, and do what their told by PR people and media. Harlem is a bedroom community people, not Tribeca, not the W Village, and if you open a business in Harlem that assumes templates and models that fly in Tribeca will work in Harlem? You will be out of business. N Boutique will be out of business within a year.

    Singles who move to Harlem think it can transform and be like "single Manhattan" (tribeca, Soho, WV, etc.), and they simply don't know Harlem. The density is simply not here. Furthermore those that move to Harlem were highly driven on value, the space you can get here relative to elsewhere in Manhattan, which means they watch their wallet. They may post on this blog and herald 5 and Diamond, but they are not going to make it a regular supper club, not that those prices, they too have mortgages and bills to pay.

    As NY Mag and the above link published, FOUR $$$$? You people act as if you're down on 5 & Diamond, people expect you to go to a greasy spoon. You act as if there is no 'in between', that represents the gradual steps Harlem needs and can be successful at. There are dozens of very nice $$ & $$$ restaurants in Harlem that YOU don't know about because they don't have PR & name chefs trying to carry their weight, like 5 & Diamond. 5 & Diamond will not see 2011, and I say good riddance! Now Marcus S has been talking a lot of sh*t about making his menu accessible to the community, I read that as $$$ pricing tops, not this 5 & Diamond $$$$ stuff.

    I am betting his place is at best as good as Creole, driven by non-Harlemites, and the real shame of it is he will not be doing anything different than Creole, really...he just has a name he's leveraging, that's it. We'll see, won't we.

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  27. Chris, in answer to your first question, FEAR! Pure & simple. Many of those Brownstone houses were on auction by the City at $1.00 or $2.00 and some people took advantage of the program. It was started by Mayor Koch who said he didn't want the City to in the business of being a landlord. Many people took advantage of it and lost, big time. Unfortunately they didn't read the fine print. Yes, you could get the building for $1 but you must have a significant portion in livable condition within xxx amount of time. And alot of the working class people couldn't do it. I knew a nurse at Harlem Hospital, got one somewhere around Manhattan Ave & 122nd St. Busted her ass working 16 hour shifts on the worst ward in the hospital everyday and was a single mom to boot. But in the end she couldn't get the electricity and plumbing together in time and lost not just the $1 investment but also the money she put in for renovations. This happened alot. Also, the City was at fault in not informing people about the low interest rate loans, abatements,etc that many of them were eligible for. I know someone who is still renovating a house in the MMPHD today. When you've live here longer and know the 'people' better you will find people have significant trust issues with government programs designed to help them when they actually help someone else that doesn't even look like them, this is where the fear comes in. Also, consider my other posts in reference to the 'poverty pimps' like Mr. Rangel & Ms. Dickens who comes from a long, long, long line of poverty pimps. Unless you're in somebody's pocket or know somebody who is then these programs ain't for you.

    Also, in the late 70's & early 80's when these auctions occurred Harlem was very blighted and if you told someone you were buying a house for $1 and fixing it up over time they would laugh you right out of the neighborhood. Some didn't care and did it anyway but Harlem wasn't cute then. The name alone sent shivers up your spine. I made my first trip to the UK as a university student in 1976 & when I told Enlgishmen I was from Harlem, the response was; "poor you!" Same thing on a trip to Paris, same response

    I could answer your other questions quite nicely but this blog is not about that although its all connected. For further discussion, reach me @ stylecouncil1@me.com

    Chris, you will find that the contemporary social problems we have here in the USA are the same as those in the UK & the rest of Europe only the responses to them are different.

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  28. whats also unfortunate is many people are hanging on to the "old" Harlem. They need to let that go; and embrace Harlem in its new clothes and help it get dressed.

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  29. Greg. Thank you for your insight.

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  30. Reynolds93,

    While I share your affinity for Creole, there isn't much else from you that I can agree with. You are clearly hanging onto (as Greg says) "the 'old' Harlem". With all due respect, you are a dinosaur and that closed-minded attitude for which you speak is slowly being eliminated by a more progressive group of settlers to Harlem. The deep and long-standing social constructs will ensure that Harlem always maintains its unique identity, but the difference now is that Harlem can appeal to a broader group of people. This is a good thing. And yes, that includes "singles", as you say. I didn't know it was such a bad thing to be single, or young, or even white (which is actually what I suspect you really mean). Don't be threatened by young and single people. You may or may not be white (not that it matters), but you were young and single at one point in your life.

    Truly yours,
    harlemfanatic - black, young, single, and a veteran Harlem resident

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  31. With the exception of the "good riddance" part, I clearly understand where Reynolds is coming from and I'm also frustrated by the sad fact that we live in a society full of zombified brainwashed sheep. This applies to everything. Think about all the NYC spots featured in Sex in The City, not because all were quality businesses but because the location scout thought it would be a good background for the scene they were shooting for the story.

    Celebrity chefs are the new "rockstars" and they will use their celebrity to relentlessly draw attention to new business ventures. And then the media will do their part to feed into the big PR craze and the sheep will follow to eat it all up, the celebrities move on to a new venture and the vicious cycle starts all over again.

    But you only need to get those 5 percenters, unsuspecting tourists, or sheep through the door just once and regardless of the $85 menu pricing, if you can't back it up with an A game they are not likely to return.

    One thing I have to applaud 5 & Diamond on is that they did show some sensitivity to those of us with limited disposable income -- the $5 menu. Thereby not shutting out the entire neighborhood completely. I agree that every neighborhood should have a nice blend of expensive upscale, middle of the road, and value dining. Here's where the frustration lies; the first wave of new restaurants on FDB are very pricey and while I'm personally happy that it's setting a tone, at the same time I'm afraid that it's setting a tone...if that makes any sense.

    Ivan hit the nail on the head. He said "the difference between [5 & Diamond and Chocolat is] that one seems price-driven to have "upscale" food at a pre-determined price level and the other uses great ingredients which demand high prices passed down to the consumer.

    That's where Chocolat fails and it's backed up by the sea of empty seats every night since it's been opened for business. In this neighborhood you wont get your first timers if you don't get them to walk through your doors because the menu is ridiculously priced AND you have no big PR machine or celebrity chef. You certainly won't get your first timers to become regulars if those people aren't absolutely blown away by the culinary experience. Sheep, may be blown away by a $16 cheeseburger but I'll just stick with 5 Guys.

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  32. Harlem Fanatic you say;"The deep and long-standing social constructs will ensure that Harlem always maintains its unique identity,..." This is not true. Back in the early 1900's when the first AA's began to move into Harlem there was a strong movement by wealthy white residents of Harlem to keep Harlem white & affluent. This group did everything including restrictive covenants, appealing to the City Council, etc to keep Harlem white & affluent and it didn't work. When the first blacks moved into Harlem, it was front page news and was called a "...Negro Invasion" Harlem will change this is for sure and its unique identity will be the stuff of college history courses and exhibits in magazines and walking tours. New entrepreneurs who are black but don't identify as AA already making significant inroads in Harlem in particular and NYC in general. Whether or not its a good thing or bad thing is irrelevant. We must decide how to incorporate the new Harlem with its new entrepreneurs into our individual and collective comfort zones so that we can ALL move forward and progress. Being stuck does nothing for you but keep you down in one place. Its a bitter pill to swallow, but we "seasoned" Harlem-AA identified residents must do it.

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  33. Did I miss the bit where 'AA' was explained? Because I keep thinking Alcoholics Anonymous and I know that ain't right.

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  34. AA = African-American. Also, there's a lot of sturm und drang in the comments over the $85 tasting menu; however if you read the post carefully it suggests that this is just a one night event and will not be a regular featured menu item.

    I would love to see 5 & Diamond's prices come down a little, but not at the expensive of the quality of the fare, which I find impressive. I am with those above who contrast 5&D's "premium product, premium price" approach with the "mediocre product, premium price" approach of Chocolat, Questan's, 67 Orange, etc. these are the spots that will fall by the wayside as more quality establishments begin siphoning off the money-throwers along with the more discerning patrons who simply lack options at this point.

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  35. Just another reminder that User Names must be provided for current comments to stay up on all recent threads.

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  36. looks like david santos left: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/archives/2010/08/five_and_diamon.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogs%2Fforkintheroad+%28Village+Voice+Blogs%3A+Fork+in+the+Road%29

    a loss for the neighborhood, imo. the one time i was there (for a $50, not $85 tasting menu) the food was awesome.

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  37. Greg, thanks for the explanation. When I first arrived in NYC (going on 10 years now) I vaguely remember there still being a similar scheme in existence ($1 brownstones).

    One question I do have is, looking at the beautiful interiors of a lot of these brownstones (now, I am partial to both original details and modern, they can look equally as good in their own way), how were they allowed to deteriorate in the first place to the awful condition that warranted the $1 program? That is the part I am confused about. At some point, these beautiful homes were allowed to rot and I just wonder who it was that failed to take the initiative at that point.

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