As most of you know, I have been living in Harlem since I graduated from college. Though not a native, it has quickly become one of my favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan. Everything from the renowned vivacity of 125th to the residential blocks off MLB Boulevard lined with brownstones, where my grandparents used to reside, makes me happy to call this place home. While historically known for its food, music and culture, Harlem has undergone a renaissance within the past decade that has spawned numerous businesses and given new life to the area. The most notable of these areas currently is Restaurant Row, which spans from 112th through 123rd streets on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. A myriad of renowned eateries have made their mark here, each adding their own flare to their choice of cuisine. If you know me you know that I love to eat and am always looking for a great place to grab food with friends as it is one of the main ways to gather, converse and connect. So when I heard another restaurant was coming to the block and was asked to write a review, I was ecstatic.
For months I have walked down Restaurant Row anxiously awaiting the opening of Harlem’s newest eatery, Row House, which advertised classic American fare and cocktails (two of my favorite things). Ideally I was looking for a place that provided a creative spin on American food in a casual chic setting, and Row House proved to be just that.
I slipped in with a friend to check out the space, and upon walking in immediately knew that this was well worth the wait. We were welcomed by Big T, who I recognized from Harlem Tavern – another local favorite which I will admit I have been to an obscene number of times. Though owned by the same team as Harlem Tavern and Heights Tavern further upcoming, Row House could not be a further departure from the two. Upon walking through the door we were shown the restaurant space on the first floor and the cocktail lounge down the stairs. A total sucker for a beautifully decorated room, I was immediately impressed by the attention to detail in the decor of both the eatery and the lounge: the upstairs a classically charming space equipped with a colorful and welcoming bar, and the downstairs a luxe, dimly-lit hideaway with little alcoves for small groups of friends. I envisioned my friends and I wrapping up dinner then heading downstairs for some drinks, music and eventually dancing after a few of the aforementioned drinks. Harlem is somewhat scarce when it comes to nightlife, so it was exciting to know that this option is now at our fingertips for weekend or even weeknight debauchery.
We headed upstairs for dinner, which started off with two of their craft cocktails from their menu. I chose the Tumble & Fall (gin, Pimm’s #1 Cup, muddled strawberry, cucumber and simple syrup) while my friend had the Laid Back (Gin, gin rose liquor, lime, MASH Grapefruit and citrus zing). What can I say? We like gin. They were both worthy of a second, third, or fourth round but we resisted.
From there our server guided us through the menu which is divided by small plates such as roasted fingerling potatoes, shrimp and grits and stuffed chicken wings to larger entrees including pappardelle bolognese, short ribs, and mac and cheese. It was recommended that we ordered three small plates to share between the two of us, so we chose the crab cakes with mustard buerre blanc, mini meatballs with honey-sriracha sauce, and brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan (#vegetables). This was a total experiment for me, but I know for a fact that brussels, bacon, and parmesan were literally passed down together by the gods, so I knew we would not be disappointed. The crab cakes were some of the best I’ve had in the area and the brussels were equally delicious, but the meatballs were truly the highlight. I am glad that our waitress advised that we get the honey-sriracha sauce opposed to the regular tomato basil because it was incredible. Note: This sauce packs serious heat and is not for the faint of heart. Between that sauce and the 90’s hip hop and R&B playing over the sound system, I left truly satisfied.
I am elated to have Row House around the corner, as I know it will soon become a community staple. It is somewhere I would recommend to come to solo for a drink, as a duo on a date or with a group for dinner and drinks. Being in the heart of Harlem, Row House gives you that feeling of being a part of the community, whether you’re visiting the area or a local. An added bonus: you won’t break the bank as they have kept their prices extremely reasonable for the quality of food that is being served. Next weekend I plan on heading there for brunch for a round of nutella french toast, which is right up my alley.