Friday, December 13, 2013

☞ BESPOKE: Best Harlem Restaurant 2013

Harlem Bespoke has been reviewing the best of 2013 and Mountain Bird at 231 West 145th Street is easily our top pick of the year for so many reasons. This might be a controversial choice for many since there is not a big PR campaign for the small eatery in the upper reaches of Harlem and the surrounding area is far from being the happening part of town.  Surprisingly none of the other major food editors have discovered this gem between FDB/8th Avenue and ACP/7th Avenue but that is to be expected for only those in the know uptown would venture this far north.  A couple of gas stations are on the block and the area probably looks pretty much like it did 10 or 15 years ago.

The trinity of a good restaurant experience can all be found here which are food, decor and service.  A Japanese team of two runs the boutique spot that seats only 19 but folks who visit the French establishment will feel like they are having a rare dining experience only to be found at the top restaurants of the city.  Mountain Bird gets its name because the menu serves all things fowl and poultry related so folks will find turkey burgers stuffed with Mornay sauce, a crispy chicken skin duo or a Moulard duck entree all on the menu for a price range mostly well under $20. There are also nightly specials which provide a reason to come back but the standard of the eatery is the Head to Toe appetizer plate which serves various offal dressed up in a sophisticated French fashion.  Then there are the desserts like the sticky toffee fig cake which are all made on site and most can afford to have at least two courses with the price range at Mountain Bird.

As far as service and atmosphere are concerned, Mountain Bird is clearly one of the best in Harlem. Keiko is both the host and waitress but somehow has a level of attentiveness that much bigger places wish they had for their more vast staffs.  The atmosphere with its coffered ceilings and black hex tile floors is vintage and elegant at the same times which has been a hit with families and couples on dates.  Details such as the doilies and gold rim plate are also a refreshing first for uptown which gives an overall newness to the ambiance of the establishment even though this dining vernacular is quite traditional.

Mountain Bird reminds us of all the secret small restaurants that solely savvy New Yorkers only knew about before the age of the internet and is one of the last spot in a quickly transforming Harlem that still feels like that favorite local place that only the neighbors frequent.  There is also a Sunday brunch which has had lines forming out front because strong word of mouth.  Mountain Bird now takes credit cards but is still BYOB as far as we know.

1 comment:

  1. This is truly one of the city's best restaurants. I would say this in harlem's best restaurant, with all due respect to the red rooster (which still wins for liveliness and scene).