Restaurant Review: FIELDTRIP Harlem. The Culture of Rice.

 

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On July 10th 2019 after a series of “soft openings” Harlem celebrity chef  J.J Johnson’s (of Cecil fame) FIELDTRIP rice centric restaurant officially opened and is much different from the other restaurants on “Lenox Ave’s Restaurant Row”.

20190718_192544With a very non-descript entrance, I noticed (less than ten days after the opening) as I walked into J.J’s land of Rice Culture.

20190725_165822(Celebrity Chef and Owner of FIELDTRIP:  J.J. Johnson)

As I strolled in and looked around the semi-industrial minimilist dining space, I was reminded of the former Republic, one of my old Union Square stand-by’s for many years. A quaint Thai-noodle restaurant that I would meet up with friends for a quick bite to eat, or a drink at the bar, but Field Trip is a little more scaled down and Spartan. I also thought of another former favorite of mine DoJo on St. Marks Place.

20190719_123203At the counter I spotted Myescha Joell, (head of communicationss for J.J.) working at her laptop and walked over to introduce myself  in person (we previously met and corresponded electronically). I was to come and do the review two days later, but had some free time that day and thought I try  some of the food for a bit of a preview, and return in a couple of days to try something else as well to compare the vibe from a weekday to a weekend.

20190718_184242Now there are no menus, (unless you count the post card size, well post cards at the counter) but all the fare is displayed via signage above the open cooking area, a-la your local Chinese restaurant (wait, even they have menus!) breaking rule #17: your menu should be larger than a post-card!

Not prepared for my two day early arrival (which was the whole point) they seemed to fluster a little to put forth a good image. So I approached the counter placed my order, paid for it and was told by the counter person that I will be receiving a text on my phone informing me when my food is ready to retrieve from the counter. While waiting for my order, I decided to look at the décor and the restroom, (you can usually rate how a place handles it’s food by the state in which they keep their bathrooms) and check out the vibe of this Asian style/Global/Fusion rice bowl haven.

The restroom was not only spotless, it seemed more colorful and up beat in contrast to the neutral semi-industrial dining area that does not seem to invite you to stay long after you have finished your meal.

On the walls of the restaurant hang pictures of a pre-gentrification Harlem, and the music coming from the sound system was not anything that I recognized, and later was told by Myescha that J.J. only plays local Harlem groups which was very interesting to know. I got my text letting me know that my food is ready, and headed for the counter. On the way I stopped to get my eating utensils, which consisted of only a plastic spork, knife and brown (recycled) paper napkins and straws. There was also iced tap water and plastic cups. Very Spartan indeed!

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I got my food from the counter and headed for a seat at one of the tables to inspect my meal. I had the Crispy Chicken which consisted of Carolina Gold Rice, Edamame, and “sticky BBQ sauce”. I also had the Crab Pockets as a side (garlic herbed cream chesse, with sweet and sour sauce) and an iced tea.

The food comes on a pink lunch tray (fuchsia?), and a bottle of “house soy sauce” on every table.

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I couldn’t get over the feeling that this is what university cafeteria’s, and quick healthy food outlets will look like in the future (sustainability, recycled paper and cups.) While wondering to myself about this I recalled a scene from Blade Runner, where Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling (Ford in the 1st movie, and Gosling and Ford in the 2nd) are eating out at places like this in a dystopian future.

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While the chicken was good (with an almost bland neutral taste) I looked to the ‘sticky BBQ sauce to provide some flavor, which it delivered. Next I emptied my wax paper bag of Crap Pockets into my circular recycled cardboard bowl and topped it with the side sauce to find out if it tastes better than the fried wantons across the street at the Chinese restaurant. I have to say that I enjoyed the Crab Pockets more than the Crispy Chicken. the Iced Tea was barely sweetened and just the right ph balance to avoid being tart.

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I returned a couple of days later to Field Trip. This time with  Jean Germain in tow hoping to finish the review and make the Fashion Show after party before it gets to late. This time I tried the Baby Spinach Grain: (Red Barley, Baby Spinach, Orange, Candied Sunflower Seeds, Red Onion, with Avocado Ginger Dressing).

I also tried the Braised Beef: (Texas Brown Rice, Spicy Black Beans with Turmeric Yogurt). The Baby Spinach rice bowl was good, but I think my version at home is better, The Avocado Ginger dressing is the best thing here in this bowl.

The Braised Beef is solid but the Turmeric Yogurt was the only thing that stood out for me. The portions are quite small, but the nutrition is big, which is reflected in their price point. My bill was only $26.00 and I felt good about my reduced carbon footprint.

The vibe of the place is very mercurial (due to the fact that they just opened) and is contingent on clientele that happen to be dining there at the time. Field Trip is a good place to grab a quick lunch, or dinner and a great pre-destination meet point for a night out with your friends, or a casual family outing.

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So as we prepare to leave, as an afterthought I tried to order some Crap Pockets to go, and was informed that they just ran out! How random?

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FIELDTRIP is located at: 109 Lenox Ave (Malcolm X Blvd) and 116th Street.

 

Fashion on the Hudson: Fashion Runway Show.

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On July 20th and one of the hottest day of summer 2019, I made my way to Riverbank State Park on 145th Street in Harlem to attend the Fashion on the Hudson runway Show presented by Fashion Ave News.

 

Now this fashion house seems to get better with every new show. Being that I love the fact that they showcase small and emerging designers, they have this knack for finding and promoting the best and most stylish emerging designer fashion brands.

These are the showcased designers that caught my attention:

 

RICHARD Q DESIGNS

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MALCOM STABLE DESIGNS

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HEAT CHIC

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BOSS LADY RESORT WEAR

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D COUTURE

20190722_102119(D Couture Designs)

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CLARENCE BLACK COUTURE

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LARRY UNDERWOOD

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I was quite impressed with these designer collections, and look forward to seeing more of their collections at the fall Fashion Week shows in september!

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See you at fashion week this fall!

Urban Street Wear Chest Rigs: The ultimate accessory.

Urban street wear has been around for quite some time, constantly evolving from one trend to another. Now urban street wear accessories are making a striking rise in the form of “Chest Rigs” as an alterative to the so called “Man-Bag” or “Fanny Pack”. However the style and it’s practical use is the big draw here.

20190707_153235Many different styles have been seen on the streets in New York, and while some are a bit ornate and others a bit more tame, it does offer a very unique look and style to your outerwear.

(Will Roberson: of Will Roberson Designs

20190707_152753(Meeco Suave: on right wearing one of his Pmf Piece$ rigs)

Meeco Suave of the brand PMF Piece$ says: “The brand is a new streetwear brand based out of New York City, made for the youth by the youth. We take pride in our motto: Locally grown, Globally known, because we started this in a small fashion community and allowed to spread coast to coast. eventually attracting the attention of the world. The brand is geared towards working for and with the culture to keep it going.”

“The company was founded four months ago in February, and we launched on April 9th 2019 with a limited run and sold out, so we had to push all orders to pre orders until we officially drop. This was a proof of concept experiment at first, and we got so much positive feedback. I’m looking forward to the final launch date which is any day, and I couldn’t be more excited to present my brand PIECE$” Meeco informed me.

070(Mike Strange: The Elegant Classy Gentleman)

I also have been inspired by Meeco to create my own rigs, which will be a little more sophisticated with a futuristic and utilitarian urban environmental bend to it. Here I’m wearing a basic chest rig, which will serve as model for the proto-type of my chest rigs.

Meeco Suave in collaboration with Kendall Stevenson, owner and president of PMF enterprise curated the brands chest rigs. Meeco told me: “The fact that we came up together in the game, it felt right to bring the businesses together and become partners. This allows us to relive some pressure of doing everything by ourselves, and two minds think better then one. We basically complement each others businesses, as well as personally.”

You can purchase PMF PIECE$ chest rigs @Pmf-Pieces or on their website: p-m-f-xpieces.myshopify.com

Join the brave new world of urban street wear!