Restaurant Review: Sugar Monk: The Dream of the Alchemist and the Artist.

A little less than a month ago I received a curious message from a woman by the name of Sam Mattingly, who happened to be the publicist for a new and very elegant speakeasy that just opened up in Harlem a few months ago named SUGAR MONK. In that message she explained that she read one of my restaurant reviews in the Elegant Classy Gentleman Magazine, and would love for me to meet the owners of this new establishment and write a review. I responded back saying that I would  love to arrange a meeting within a week or so. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from Sam to lock in a date and time for us all to meet, and so my mysterious journey, and initiation into the world of Sugar Monk began!

20191019_170922Now after being given the address on 122nd Street and Fredrick Douglas Boulevard, I recalled that I passed by this place within the last four months on several occasions, but had no idea what it was. At first glance one might take it as a Masonic or Esoteric meeting place or lodge, due to the semi-nondescript appearance. Now I say “semi”, because the circle within the square within the logo, is known by me to be associated with Alchemical and Masonic symbolism; which lead me to believe the aforementioned.

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Little did I know that that my passing thoughts on this was closer to the truth, as I strolled by oh so casually many times in the past three or four months, for there was nothing to prepare me for what was to come.  As I arrived at Sugar Monk at the appointed time 6pm sharp, and noticed that  you just can’t walk into the venue, you must ring the bell and wait for someone to open the door from the inside (very speakeasy like) for entry. I pressed the bell and shortly one of the owners, Ektoras Binikos opened the door and greeted me with a big welcoming smile (they were expecting me) bidding me to enter. I walked in and introduced myself to Ektoras, who told me that Sam and his partner Simon Jutras have not yet arrived, and escorted me to a very comfortable seat at a table next to the bar while we wait for them to arrive.

20191106_191016I was stunned by the intricate beauty of the interior décor, as it was so masterfully crafted to convey an artistic aesthetic of comfort. I was almost speechless as I looked around this surreal world, and being transported to another world from the outside which I came. Smooth Jazz music was playing in the background which added to the mystique and ambience of this lovely venue.

20191020_201944Simon & Sam soon arrived and each greeted me very warmly. So after they sat down, I was flanked by Ektoras and Simon with Sam sitting directly in front of me which I noticed formed a circle or a square (the former alchemical reference) at our table.

20191020_202509After thanking all three for the invitation , I began my interview (I had so many more questions now) with these two artistic gentleman about their respective backgrounds, what they created here, and what they hoped to achieve. “We like to explain to each of our customers exactly what we do, and more importantly everybody must be made to feel welcome here, treated with respect along with being given great attention at all times” Ektoras said.  Simon told me: “We have a very good staff, all the servers and bartenders here are really good at explaining the menu.

20191020_202519And that’s not an easy thing to do, because we have 32 cocktails and their very intricate, if someone orders something you have to make sure that they like the spirits behind it, and it can take a long time if the place is busy, but everyone takes the time to do it because it’s important, it’s part of the experience.” The very masterly done menu has about 8 chapters, with a description of the cocktails ingredients, and each “chapter” of the menu opens with a beautiful piece of Hermetic art work with the title of the chapter.

As I continued my interview with the Alchemist and Artist owners, I was treated to some of their tapas fare from the menu: The Hummus Plate: House-made hummus with toasted whole grain pita bread.

20191107_183531(House-made hummus with whole grain pita bread)

And next, I was offered the Pate Plate: Organic Chicken Livers Pate which was served with a delicious Pomegranate jelly and wild mushrooms, pickled kirbies, and grilled baguette.

20191107_183752(Organic Chicken Livers Pate)

I was also served: The Artisanal Cheeses Plate: served with Seasonal marmalade and toasted maple walnuts, and grilled baguette.

20191107_183643(Artisanal Cheeses Plate)

The delivery and the presentation of the food menu items was a combination of upscale showmanship and elegance, I was impressed simply by that alone, but when I actually tasted the food, the freshness and quality was up to par and the texture of the taste was delightfully sophisticated on my palette; a perfect contrast with the cocktails I was to sample next.

20191104_160538Now when it was time to sample the cocktails, I informed Ektoras that I would leave it to to him to decide, since all 30+ drinks were created by him. He complied but then something unusual happened! Ektoras looked me in the eye’s and asked me “well how to you feel right now?” His question took me totally off-guard, as well as disarmed me! I thought for a few second and told him, than he asked me what sort of spirit I was in the mood for (as well as the ones I don’t care for). After that he ordered me the “I Surrender Dear”: Sazerac rye, The King’s Ginger, lemon, Meyer lemon, smoked chili bitters, aquafaba.  A very sophisticated, and pleasant cocktail which also caught me by surprise. I was amazed at the subtle changes as the temperature of the cocktail got a bit warmer. A truly amazing drink.

20191020_194805(I Surrender Dear)

The second cocktail (“The Absolute Kelly “) was a very unusual drink as well. This cocktail was Pitch Black, and a bit visually apprehensive.  However once you get past the almost off putting look of the cocktail and take a sip, you are rewarded with a very well put together drink that taste’s amazing!

20191107_183616(The Absolute Kelly)

This cocktail is made with Absolut Vodka, Becherovka, Chios Mastiha, shiso, yuzu, black sesame, gum arabic, bergamot bitters. The garnish added to this drink is not something you get your hands on quite easily, it being imported to keep with the integrity of the cocktail. I was told by Ektoras that they have the services of a “forager” which picks certain herbs for him to use in the creation of some of his cocktails.

20191020_185650At one point during the interview, Ektoras said to me: “Since you are the elegant classy gentleman, allow me to tell you about our “elegant ice”. We have an Ice Master which make’s beautiful and elegant “ice spheres”.

20191107_183559(Elegant “Rose” Ice)

“It is a sphere in which there is a rose frozen inside of it, so when you serve the clear sphere it shows the red rose within.” Simon added.

Now as I explored the backgrounds of these two, things began to make perfect sense of this intoxicating almost surreal world that is Sugar Monk. Each of the owners is a master artist and alchemist in their own right!

The Alchemist and the Artist:

Ektoras Binikos: Has honed his craft at establishments, such as Aureole, Oceana, Michael’s New York and Michelin star restaurant, Gabriel Kreuther.  Ektoras was the creative force and managing partner of the renowned 2nd floor on Clinton downtown. Ektoras is recognized among his peers as a master mixologist who believes mixology is “art in a glass”.  Ektoras is also a visual artist.

Simon Jutras: Is a photographer and an interior designer of furniture.

“The fusion of art, mixology and alchemy is the connective thread that runs through every aspect of this intimate venue. Everything at Sugar Monk is meant to indulge the senses and delight the palate.”

After a bit of taking all of this in, I got up to avail myself of the restroom. I strolled to the back where the bathroom was, and was “Enchanted” by the sliding door of the restroom. They say that if it’s to good to true, it actually is. So I tried to find something about this place that I couldn’t praise. However my attempts were futile.

20191104_173428I found the bathroom to be just as chic and inviting as the main seating place, so much I found myself lingering just a tad bit to long.

20191020_202138The patrons are from all walks of life, but each brings with them, their own elegance and love of the art’s.

20191020_202339The 3rd and final cocktail I had before my departure was the most intriguing drink of all!

The mysterious Marie Laveau. This curious drink is made with Elderflower & Bitters: Basil Hayden bourbon infused with fliscouni, Averna amaro, elderflower, black & green cardamom, orange bitters. This one drink I could not define or cross reference with any sort of cocktail I ever had (No common frame of reference) which put me in a very pensive thought. This drink too changes as time passes. further perplexing me with it’s complex composition created by the Alchemist!

20191107_183703(The Marie Laveau)

My conversations with these two “Masters of the Craft” and Sam was not only intellectually stimulating, and profoundly enjoyable, but also fun and erudite, filled with a wit and humor that I have not enjoyed in quite some time.

20191107_183811(Ektoras, Mike Strange, Simon)

Sugar Monk is so exceptional that I cannot even rank it using the five star rating system, for this place far exceeds in all categories, so therefore I cannot rate it, because the service, food, drinks (the one’s I had) and décor, as well as style and sophistication is off the charts! I can only recommend Sugar Monk (very strongly) to anyone and everyone.

Sugar Monk is Located at: 2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd, NYC, NY, 10027  

Hours:       Sunday – Monday 6:00 pm – 1:00 am

Tuesday – Saturday 6:00 pm – 2:00 am  

The kitchen is open between 6:00 pm – 12:00 midnight, serving small savory dishes and chocolates.

Do yourself a favor and visit this enchanted speakeasy, and try a couple of their Alchemical Elixer’s, I mean Cocktails.

I wanted to stay a bit longer but duty called, and I had to leave this mystical world of Art and Alchemy back to the drum mundane world of the outside.  And as I made my way to my next destination, all I could think about was the mysterious and elusive Marie Laveau, as the complicated after taste of bitters and elderberry lingered on my palette.

 

Restaurant Review: Brunch at Rendezvous Harlem.

It was a late Saturday afternoon in Harlem and I’m walking down on FDB (Fredrick Douglas Boulevard) towards Central Park. I’m quite late (about several weeks Late) to brunch but I’m in no hurry as it is only a little bit after 3pm, and I still have about three quarters of an hour before brunch ends at RENDEZVOUS HARLEM. Now I first stopped in for a drink about two months ago (Chardonnay of course) while walking by with a friend who spotted two of her former co-workers sitting on the patio at this modern French bistro, and we decided to join them for a spell.

41895202_466591317083323_283934562747154432_nI was very taken by the chic interior design inside, and the Chardonnay was better than most places in Harlem these days, so I gave my card to the manager Joseph and told him that I would return in a week or two and do a review on the food.  Joseph told me that he would love for me to return and review the brunch, after giving me the bad news that they just ran out of Chardonnay. Well after the Fashion Week madness, and other reviews, as well as scheduling conflicts I find myself returning to keep my word.

20190817_185305I walk in and head toward a table on the far left of the restaurant, and Joseph walks over to greet me while giving me that “I’ve seen you somewhere before” look. So I say to him “you do remember me, don’t you?” and handed him my card. Immediately he recognized me and said “Welcome back Monsieur Strange! It’s been awhile?” Indeed it has I told him, things have just been a little crazy I explained, but being a man of my word I am now here for the review. Joseph bids me to sit at a place of my choice, so I sit at a table where I can see everything (at the far left) and he brings me over a glass of Champagne and a brunch menu.

20191026_152738I scan the brunch menu and decided to start with the HOME SPREADS: olive tapenade, eggplant caviar, and sundried tomato pesto which is served with bread.

20191026_153010And for the main, I chose the “BENEDEICLICIOUS” their take on the eggs benedict, which is two poached eggs over brioche on ham with hollandaise sauce, and served with home fries.

20191026_154021The eggs benedict was quite delicious, (I must admit) which is sort of a brunch stable for me when I brunch, but instead of the traditional “English Muffin” the poached eggs and tasty ham slices was placed on top of a very thick piece of garlic brioche bread, which played upon my palette with tangy delight. In fact the brioche bread was so thick, I had a bit of difficulty stuffing it into my mouth, and made a little bit of a mess on my sports jacket, but I didn’t mind at all as I already did that with the home spreads. Out of the three home spreads, I enjoyed the olive tapenade and the eggplant caviar the most, however do not think that the olive tapenade was not good as well, for it definitely was.

20191027_112705As I was enjoying this fabulous meal and cozy atmosphere, I noticed that the wax paper in my bread basket was a facsimile of a French newspaper, so I removed it from the metal basket to take a closer look at it. It was such a wonderful prop that for several minutes I actually thought that I was sitting in a modern quaint bistro in Paris.

20191027_113224My French is not what it was when I was 14 (I could actually hold a conversation then) but I did my best, and it was a very welcoming addition to my dining experience, and added a little “Je ne sais quoi” as I continued to have my palette stimulated by this dish that I had so many times before, but felt like the first time.

20191027_113038I also took a few moments to observe the other patrons seated in the bistro, and they seemed to be having the same relaxing experience that I was having, you could just tell that they were quite satisfied being here.

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After I finished my phenomenal meal, I ordered a glass of Chardonnay to kick back at my table and enjoy the view of the interior (and from the lovely window) of this very relaxing albeit small, but comfy restaurant, and that’s when Joseph presented me with a treat in the form of a Crème Brulee!

20191027_113429A fitting ending to my brunch experience at Rendezvous. Every part of my meal was made to perfection (along with great care and love) as I could not find one single flaw, (Yes I looked, I’m a restaurant critic!) in the food, service, bathroom, or beverages so I have no choice but to give this French bistro very high marks along with my upmost recommendation. Joseph (the general manager) was very on spot with a glass of seltzer water and a napkin to clean off my jacket, as I mentioned before about the mess I made of myself. The charm and professionalism of Joseph, and in fact the whole staff is something to aspire to, even the busser was quite a gentleman.

The food here was so good that I asked if I could look at the dinner menu, and was very pleased with what I perused. Returning here to review the dinner menu is an absolute must! This place has such a romantic vibe during the day, I can only imagine what that would be like at night for dinner!

20191027_113647(Mike Strange, Joseph Bouteraa)

Now I could go on and on about how much I liked and enjoyed this place, the food, and the excellent performance of the staff…….. So in closing I will just say Bonsoir!

20191027_113254Rendezvous is located at 2072 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem.

Restaurant Review: Sofrito Harlem, Sunday Brunch Party.

Now for many brunch is the name given to the meal you eat between 11:00-4:00pm Saturday & Sunday, and a excellent excuse to drink (as much as you want) before 5pm. Myself and Jean Germain, had the pleasure of having a drink at Sofrito after covering a summer fashion show at Riverbank Park in Harlem.

While we were sitting refreshing ourselves on the couch next to the window overlooking the Hudson River, one of the managers Luis Reyes walked up to me and asked me if I was an actor, or something of the sort swearing that he has seen me before in some publication. I gave him my card and suggested that he may have seen me in a video ad or one of the video restaurant reviews I’ve done. Jean and myself found ourselves in a pleasant conversation with this gentleman, and he mentioned the extraordinary brunch party that takes place there every Sunday.

Jean and I told him that we will return on the following weekend (or the next) and will do a restaurant review of the place.

20190822_183719Jean made the reservations for us two weeks later, and told me that our table was set for 4:00 pm. A little late for brunch I thought to myself but there was no turning back now. Jean was stuck in midtown on the train and decided to take an Uber the rest of the way.  I walked in and the place was crowded, filled with weekend revelers and a DJ spinning tunes that make you want to dance. Jean arrives and we head to our table, we decided to take a table outside on the enormous patio overlooking the Hudson River.

20190822_182849It seemed like almost every table was celebrating something, engagements, birthday’s, new addition to the family or just life in general. The party vibe was infectious as Latin music blared from the DJ booth inside.

20190822_183844Jean and I sat back and took it all in as we waited for our food. The brunch menu is a pre fixe of Latin brunch dishes (after all the name of the restaurant is Sofrito) and Luis extended us the bottomless mimosa’s. With all of this pleasant sensory stimulus, I forgot that it’s was after 5pm.

20190822_182937The décor inside the restaurant is bright and colorful which puts one at ease. Despite the fact that it was so busy, Luis told me that this is a light crowd for Sunday, while I was worried that the Fire Department would bust in at any moment to shut down this mega brunch party.

20190822_183031For appetizers I ordered the Ham and Cheese Croquettes which is made with black forest ham, aged cheddar with mango aioli sauce. Jean had the Carne Frita (crispy marinated pork chunks).

 

My appetizer was very delicious and I was sort of sad that there was only four of these morsels of tasty delight. Jean’s pork chunks seemed like a meal all by itself.

20190822_185213Our waitress was very attentive and friendly, in (fact she treated us like Jean and I were her own boys the way she dotted on us), and made sure that we had everything we needed when we needed it.

 

While I was trying to take notes and Jean was taking care of social media, we seemed to attract some attention from a near by table of women who seemed to be enjoying the food and view as much as we were.

 

 

They were trilled with Jean and I, and Jean finally put his phone down to appreciate the scene that was unfolding around us. Our Entree’s arrived so we had to divert attention back to the food. I had the Cheddar Scramble (hard to mess that up) eggs, aged cheddar, home fries and toast with avocado.  Jean had the Pernil: Roasted Pork with pigeon pea rice and sweet plantains.

 

The food while good and of decent portions was not overly remarkable, but the Ham and Cheese Croquettes is something special and worthy of praise. The atmosphere and festive vibe makes it difficult not to have a good time. Table’s seem to merge with each other causing a chain reaction into one big brunch party, as people mingled and interacted with each other.

 

We came to the conclusion that everything that Luis told us about this Sunday Brunch Party was exactly that and more!

20190822_185318While the crowd was mostly Latino, it was fairly mixed and everyone was friendly and very festive towards one another (including us) and you got the sense of being at a huge family party where everyone is dancing and laughing.

 

It wasn’t long before Jean and I realized that we did not want to leave, and extended our stay just a bit longer as others approached us to engage in conversation and good cheer.

20190804_221154(Shasha dropped by to hang for a bit)

 

I must say that I was caught off guard by the effects of this magical brunch party, and must give it four and a half stars just for the vibe and ambience with it’s communal celebratory festive feel. I really enjoyed my time here (and so will you).

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Sofrito is located at: 679 Riverside Drive in Riverbank Park on 145th Street in Harlem and 175 Main Street White Plains NY. SofritoNY.com/SofritoWhitePlains.com

Adios Amigo’s……………

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.

 

Restaurant Review: B2 Harlem. A Formula for Class and Taste.

When I think of seafood (especially during the summer) in Harlem, my mind usually turns to catfish. Now Harlem didn’t really have an upscale seafood restaurant……until now! B2 Harlem (formally known as Billie’s Black) which had and still has the best catfish in Harlem is now an upscale seafood restaurant!

20190608_150857In 2016 owner Adriane Ferguson teamed up with co-owner Mikel Welch who remodeled Billie’s Black and transformed it into an upscale seafood restaurant (at last) which also boast’s a classy speakeasy right downstairs (think of a mini Gin Fizz back in it’s early days) that has a live Jazz band every Friday night.20190612_231454I truly loved the classy décor of the restaurant which sets the mood for so many possibilities: elegant dinner dates, meetings over drinks, business or classy brunch, and of course, late night Jazz in a elegant speakeasy. You get my point!20190608_163104

For dinner I tried the Ginger Lime Black Cod which was served with wild rice salad, topped with squash and red peppers. The presentation of this dish made me marvel at it’s beauty, that I paused quite a moment as if to encode it into my mind to retrieve much later to delight myself.

20190521_175713This dish while delicious and healthy, I felt that a little something was missing like maybe a butter sauce or some other to give it a little kick on the palette. But overall a solid and good dish.

And of course for an appetizer I had the catfish, which comes with hot-sauce in a medicine dropper (no more spilling it on my tie).

The presentation of the dishes at B Squared are all quite appealing, so just gazing at them is enough to make one hungry, and their nice to look at! I returned on the weekend for brunch, and B2 did not disappoint.

20190608_151450I had the Lobster Hash, which is served with honey chipotle, potato hash with a fried egg crowning this glorious dish. The half lobster tail underneath the egg and laying on the bed of potato hash was so fresh, it could have just been caught that morning! This is one brunch dish I would always recommend (and have over and over again). I also had a side of honey beacon, and a carafé of Mimosa to accompany this marvelous dish.

20190525_165340(Alchemical Distillation Reagents)

As if the delicious dinners and brunch was not enough, I will now explain the cocktail menu and what makes it so special and different from other Harlem venues! Now anyone with a background and Knowledge of Science and Chemistry (like myself), knows that Alchemy was the forerunner of chemistry in the middle ages which conducted experiments to covert base metals into gold, and manufacture the universal Elixir (universal medicine). This “proto-scientific” tradition originated in Egypt, than spread throughout Europe which attempted to purify, mature, and perfect certain natural materials.

The skillful combination of the four basic elements Air-Earth-Water-Fire, along with “purified metals”, oils, extracts from plants and flowers “distilled” in the proper fashion resulted in medicinal tinctures, elixirs and salves to “cure” many aliments and promote well being.

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Such experiments led to “Homeopathic” cures and practices to promote well being and health. Later on Chemistry became king as the advancement of science gave us more understanding of the “natural” world.

B2 has taken elements and concepts from both of these practices and has created a Periodic Table of (Cocktail) Distillations.

20190521_175339I tried the B2’s PC/Penicillin. PC=msh (Monkey Shoulder Scotch) hs (Honey Syrup) lj (Lemon Juice) gj(Ginger juice) iw (Islay Wiskey) gscr (Ginger Snap Cookie Rim). Or PC=msh+hs+lj+gj+iw+gscr.

20190521_194055This cocktail was AWSOME! This potent and tasty drink will Tintalize your palate with an explosion of tasty tarty sweetness, and the ginger snap cookie rim that will cause a rapid increase of energy in an extreme manner.

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20190608_173512(Batender/Mixologist: Kurt Zager)

The bartender Kurt Zager is a certified and skillful mixologist. Well versed in the preparation of all of these scientific/alchemical cocktails. And is also quite an artist, and very witty as well with a top notch sense of humor.

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It is quite a treat to watch as they “concoct” your selected drink right in front of you, using a torch to heat a cinnamon stick and infuse your glass with the gases, smoke and essence of the cedar wood and spice. Even setting a sprig of sage or rosemary ablaze on some of the dishes, leaving in it’s wake a pleasant aroma!

B Squared even features a drink that let’s you be your own “Mixologist”. All the ingredients are set before you in “test tubes” on a test tube rack (of course), and you pour them in your glass in the proper order and watch as the colors change from the chemical reactions. Lastly you add the tequila in your concoction and you will marvel at your chemistry skill and how you made a phenomenal drink. Enjoy!

20190612_230233Hung Over? Try B2’s Bloody Mary with a Jumbo Shrimp. Yes it’s a Bloody Mary with a snack attached!

20190608_162314Oh, did I mention live jazz music? Room 623 B2 Harlem’s Speakeasy right downstairs from the restaurant every Friday Night. Does it get better than this? I think not!

The clientele is upscale, elegant and chill. Everyone is friendly and relaxed. As a matter of fact I was invited into a conversation with a guest at the bar. As we were discussing the owner Adriane’s elegant and sophisticated approach to B2’s concept, I commented “As a known scientist, it’s surprising that she blinded me with science…I know”.

20190608_173057(Mike Strange & Adriane Ferguson)

So what is my review of B2 Harlem? I will sum it up with my calculation. Now B2 is from the Pythagorean Theorem which states: a Squared + b Squared = c Squared. My formula is as follows: B2Harlem+MS+D+d+B+d=A Jolly Good Time

(Mike Strange+Dinner+drinks+Brunch+drinks=A jolly good time)

B2 Harlem is located at 271West 119th Street between St Nick & FDB

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Stop by and have them whip something up for you!

20190620_141457“As a known scientist, it’s surprising that she blinded me with science…I know.”

Restaurant Review: Archer & Goat Harlem.

Harlem has a new chic restaurant on Lenox Ave, and it’s name is Archer & Goat. When I first walked by and saw the curious name which was compelling and inviting all at once, I just had to walk in and to discover the mystery of this name which tugged at me in such a cosmic sense. My first inclination was a centaur holding a bow (in the back of my mind), as a centaur is a combination of both (but more on this later).

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As I walked in the first thing I should have noticed was the bar, as it is right in front of you as you walk in.

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While I was aware of it before me, the first thing that caught my eye and in fact held them in thrall, was the strange lighting fixtures on the ceiling which actually spoke to the inner part of me. I sensed that it held a deeper meaning, and later found out that I was right!

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Jennifer Chaudhary and Alex Guzman are the husband and wife team owners of Archer & Goat. Both are native New Yorkers, and moved to Harlem eleven years ago and fell in love with Lenox Ave. Alex said: “We felt a need to open a small bar restaurant on Lenox Ave”.

20190512_183409( Co owner: Alex Guzman)

Jennifer said: “Lenox Ave is one of the most beautiful avenues in New York.” Alex is a Sagittarius and his charming wife Jennifer is a Capricorn, hence the name Archer & Goat (I was on the right track)!

And the “Strange” light fixtures on the ceiling are the respective constellations corresponding to their Zodiac signs in the Northern night sky (I thought they looked familiar). This ties in perfectly with their name brand and quite cleverly I must say!

This “Chic Minimalist” bar restaurant does not have Wi-Fi or a T.V. by design as Alex says: “It encourages people to talk” which is very commendable as far as I’m concerned. People need to free themselves from their “Electronic Masters” (cell phones, laptops, tablets) for an hour or so.

This is the first restaurant review were I returned more than once, (four times in fact) before I wrote the review, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the music? (a whole set of U2 songs was on rotation. one of my favorite bands.)

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Maybe it was that tasty Turmeric Orange Margarita that Jennifer created? Or perhaps the cool and chill vibe I felt whenever I walked by, or walked in the place.

20190410_190855And going a bit deeper, maybe it’s because I was born on Lenox Ave and my Mother and Father was an Archer & Goat (Mom was the Archer, and Dad was the Goat), and it felt like home! (Ok enough with the Psycho/Astro self-analysis. a Degree in Psychology will do that to you at times).

So let’s go through the offerings by numbers! The first visit I had the Turmeric Orange Margarita, and fell in love with it.

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The second time I just leaned against the wall to watch and feel the vibe of the place for a few minutes. The third time, I had the delicious Roasted Duck breast, with mango & onion curtido, pickled peppers, cilantro.

20190512_215131The fourth time was for the first day of their brunch menu (By accident). I had the Skillet Lamb Hash, which was simply a tasty spicy delight, with a Mimosa of course! (My Logistical Executive Jean Germain joined me on the brunch). And we both agreed it to be exceptional in quality and tastes!

20190504_161134Having only been open for about three months, Archer & Goat is sure to be quite popular in the neighborhood. It is certainly on the fast track to becoming my new favorite spot on Lenox Ave! I also noticed the family-like camaraderie between the owners and the staff. The staff was very warm and welcoming at all times.

20190410_190318Archer & Goat also have an outside patio in the front and back of the restaurant, just perfect for the milder and warmer weather.

20190512_215158This bar restaurant is immaculate from bar to bathroom.

20190410_202241Vegetables are prominent on the menu and dishes, while American have a Latin/Indian flavor and spin to it.

20190512_215026Also A&G is children friendly, and in fact friendly all around. I highly recommend Archer & Goat for dinner, brunch or just a drink or two. I have to give A&G four stars in all areas! Stop by and experience the magic for yourself!

Archer & Goat is located at: 187 Malcolm X Bivd (Lenox Ave) New York 10026.