Saturday, July 2, 2011

☞ DRINK: Harlem Tavern Opening Night


Harlem Tavern at 116th Street finally opened this Friday on July 1st and the neighborhood noticed.  By early evening, the entire outdoor area was packed with folks enjoying the perfect summer night and there was a line of guests waiting to be seated wrapping its way around the outer wall on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Walking along the lower FDB corridor, it appeared that Bier International a couple of blocks south was busy as usual so there definitely appears to be a demand for these types of casual eating establishments uptown. Did anyone go to the opening? On a side, the Harlem Tavern will also have a jazz brunch open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 PM-4:00 PM.

21 comments:

  1. whole lotta white folk

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  2. There was a line to get in when we passed by yesterday evening. Congrats to them on what looked like a very successful opening and what is a great addition to the neighborhood.

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  3. I went but when I realized that id either have to wait on line for a table or stand 2 guys deep in front of the bar, I left.

    Shoulda seen that coming on an after work Friday. To say that place is going to do well is an understatement.

    Good for them. I'll try again during the midweek and see if I can avoid the horde.

    or stand 2 guys deep in front of the bar, I left.

    Shoulda seen that coming on an after work Friday. To say that place is going to do well is an understatement.

    Good for them. I'll try again during the midweek and see if I can avoid the horde.

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  4. SM: That's your take-away? Really? Whether from the pics above or from the experience in person, it was clearly a diverse crowd.

    I took the subway to 116th, and saw a mob of 80-100 folks waiting to get through the gate right at 5:00. Although my initial thought was, "This would be a great time to go to Bier International," we came back about 20 minutes later and got a table without waiting very long.

    I can't really imagine how crazy it was for them to go from zero to the max in the span of a few minutes, with new staff, etc. I mean, unless you're catering an event where there are only two food choices, having ~250 people with individual orders show up at the same time -- that's going to crash your kitchen hard.

    So yeah, there was a rather lengthy wait. But the drink flowed freely in the meantime, and both the weather outside and the atmosphere inside the place were altogether pleasant. When the food did come, it was really quite good. And to top it off, our thoroughly frazzled waitress (in addition to being abundantly apologetic) got all of our drinks comped to help make up for the wait time.

    On the other hand, we did see that some other folks were rather more critical of the situation, and chose to take it out on the wait staff (who were clearly not at fault themselves). Frankly, I don't understand how anyone could take it upon themselves to beta test a new establishment, much less one that has been literally mobbed as described, without checking at least some of their more rigorous expectations at the door. As Vic Vega pointed out above, this was something that anyone could see coming.

    I have no doubt they'll be humming along well before Vic returns midweek. Even if the place fills up every night, it will be nothing like the shock treatment they received yesterday...

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  5. just got back from brunch
    was fairly nicely done... nice music
    compares with Hudson River Cafe or Covo for ambiance. Food/drink value may compare also.
    Worth revisiting

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  6. Harlemhouse: Thanks for reporting back -- I walked by early this afternoon and it looked way more relaxed than yesterday.

    I may stop in tomorrow to check out the brunch and take in the scene.

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  7. Please let us stop making the comments "a whole lotta white people". What's that? Disguised racism. It would seem that people, no matter the color, will appreciate well-thought establishments that have caught the demand for out-door beer establishments. Let us all enjoy the benefit of another option without resorting to low IQ comments like above. Happy 4th!

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  8. Does not compare to Covo nor Hudson River Cafe.

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  9. @Guest: If SM had said about an event ''that is a whole lot of Black folk over there.'' it would have been a jokey kind of head count. But since we are talking about Whites its disguised racism? Please. Friday's HT crowd was whiter than Chocolats, Billie's Black or Moca's tend to be, but darker than Bier's. And these places are all within a short walk of each other. It isnt racist to notice this stuff. Just like how it seems the only White people who tend to go to Silvia's or Lenox Lounge to eat will be tourists no matter HOW packed Red Rooster or Chez Luz get. And Lenox Lounge's food got better according to Zagat's(I can understand avoiding Sylvia's). I dont see why it is wrong to notice this stuff but it is somehow ok to call somebody "low I.Q." for mentioning it.

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  10. Friday afternoon I felt like sitting outside, having a beer and reading my book so I walked down to Harlem Tavern. When I walked up to Harlem tavern I immediately realize that wouldn't happen there. The line was down the block. So I headed down to Bier for my beer and book,which was crowded but not overwhelmingly so. I overhead someone at the bar make the comment that they hoped that the stroller set would relocate up the street to Harlem Tavern. (HT did have a lot of strollers in line.) I personally would like to see no children in bars period, but I guess it's something I have to tolerate if I want to get a drink in my neighborhood.

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  11. Ok -- on reflection I agree that Covo and Hudson River Cafe have better food than HT, and also better ambiance and music. However, HT is an immediate neighbor so accounting for the ease in getting there comparable in terms of desire to go to it vs Covo or HRC. However, even giving them a break for openers, yes, they do need to up their food quality, choice, and quantity to compare with Covo/HRC.
    The $15 brunch compares in price with Covo, but the choices at Covo are more impressive and tastier. The HRC brunch is $22 but includes unlimited drinks and baked goods.
    Compared to the others in the immediate neighborhood I agree that their pricing is better, but that is a negative reflection on the others on the street. I am glad they are going for a more sensible pricing model

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  12. I don't think we should be comparing HT to the other eateries mentioned...they're just different and on another level.

    Let's just give HT a chance...

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  13. A lot of comments about the opening and the
    "White Folks" factor, but I very surprised
    not one person mentioned anything about the food???

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  14. Great to see Harlem Tavern abuzz with so many people enjoying another new spot in Harlem along with all those cheerful bright red umbrellas, quite an addition to this corner. As with all these new Harlem establishments, a diverse crowd, I’m sure they will do well. My only criticism, the garbage collection area is right next to the sidewalk, so walking south, the first impression is a huge pile of garbage from the operation, maybe enclose that area a little better.

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  15. Nice that the first impressions of a new Harlem establishment that is opening during what may or may not be the end of a horrible recession are of the number of white people who chose to visit. I grew up in the South, and this reminds me of the kind of utter racist nonsense that unenlightened white people used to say when more than a couple of non-whites showed up at the local mall. They all thought it was funny and absolutely normal to point that out, too. Only, it wasn't.

    I've never seen the number of whites catalogued in any other restaurant reviews, nor have I ever cared. Sanou's Mum is normally a great contributor on this site, but that was just stupid and uninformed.

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  16. Haven't actually made it there yet, but every time I pass it appears to be packed to the rafters. One thing I wonder is are there potentially too many tables out there? Looks like there isn't space to swing a cat! I also wonder whether Bier International will think about expanding (not sure where though). Pretty sure they could fill something on this scale.

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  17. I hope you have kids someday so you can also enjoy that form of marginalization. It's nice to have now two establishments where hard working parents can feel slightly like normal humans for a moment. I suppose we don't need any future generations so you can enjoy your beer in peace.

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  18. Stroller set--I don't think anyone was attacking your choice to have children. Just the decision to bring the children to a drinking establishment where people are cutting loose.

    Marginalized for having children? Seriously? Get a life, and get a babysitter.

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  19. To be fair to stroller set, there is a big difference between dropping in at the bar for a quick drink, with kid in tow, and having a proper night out which I agree ought to involve a babysitter of some kind. Personally, I find having a drink AND keeping the little man occupied is quite difficult to pull off. Of course, you do see some parents who are happy to focus more on having the drink and let the little ones run rampant ;)

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  20. 'get a life' -- so true! you're right - the surest way to 'get a life' (a rich social life full of carousing i assume you mean) is to have kids. ok, thanks for the suggestion. I will look into this babysitter thing too, that sounds promising.

    My tip to you: I know the rent seemed high when you wanted to live in Williamsburg, but I promise, the bars there have many fewer infants. At least during the hours between 2 and 5pm when I get drunk with my kids ;)

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  21. Wow what a turn this has taken, let people enjoy their life as long as the kids are not running around or bawling their heads off I don't really care what the parents do.

    I do think it sucks to see babies out at a bar late at night but if the parent wants to catch a quick buzz who are we to deny them?

    Anyway I was by the Tavern last night and it continues to pull the crowds, I will try the food on Friday and report!!

    I echo an earlier sentiment, it is good to have yet another choice in Harlem!!!

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