Harlem Underground – Restaurant Review

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So the dude & I hit up Harlem Underground the other day. It was really early on in the day so it was NOT busy at all, which was great because we got to really get to know the staff working that day. I just wanna shout out Anne (I hope I spelled your name right) for her exceptional service and for being an all around awesome person. She was one of the funniest and most personable servers I have ever encountered. I like you Anne, I really like you. On with the review then? Let’s get it.

Formerly known as Irie Food Joint, Harlem Underground is located at 745 Queen St West. They draw much inspiration from the 1920 Harlem Renaissance and proudly feature cuisine which is a blend of Afro-American & Afro-Caribbean flavours. As they beautifully state about their decor, it “juxtaposes the structural lines of art deco against the urban grit associated with graffiti art”…I couldn’t have said it better myself (hence why I quoted them). I don’t know if I can really say this and have it make sense, but there was just a sense of soul about this place. I loved it.

I felt like I had to go through an Arabian Nights kind of experience to get to our homegirl Anne. Once we got in, my eyes darted between the chandelier above us, the way the bar was set up and the wall with funky graphics. The pictures actually reminded me of the album art of a soul-tape mix CD I saved up for when I was 10…took me back and twas dope.

Moving on to their menu…

As I stated earlier their cuisine is really a fusion of Afro-American & Afro-Caribbean flavours with a modern twist. The flavours are kickin’! I really liked the look of their menu itself. It really worked with the old school they had going on.

Okay so now it’s getting real and it’s my fave part…let’s get into the food;)

Catfish Lafayette
Seasoned deep fried breaded morsels served with a side of sweet chili sauce and chipotle mayo.

I am always really picky with my deep fried foods for the following reasons: seasoning, breading, over fried/under fried, tenderness and many more. Let me just break this down for you…the fish was cooked to a capital a$$ T. The breading was very light but crisp all at once, the seasoning was very reminiscent of ‘down south’ flavours. The fish was very tender and moist. I usually don’t have a problem picking which sauce I enjoyed more, but I couldn’t choose between these two. The sweet chili sauce tasted like it had hints of maple syrup in it (I am almost 100% sure it was chilied maple syrup and as they say on the block, “it can gwaan”). The chipotle mayo was just all around velvety smooth awesome-ness. Highly recommend! 10/10

Collard Greens

This is a dish I’m not usually a fan of unless one of my dear Caribbean family members makes it for me. I can safely say I did enjoy this. Did I enjoy it enough to finish it? Negative. Would I order it again? Only if I went with the dude because I know he would finish it and it wouldn’t go to waste. So I’m essentially saying no, I wouldn’t order it again. HOWEVER, I do want to say that if you actually enjoy collard greens then this might be a good side dish for you to try out. 7/10

Harlem Cornbread

YOOOOO…let me just say something: I made NO effort whatsoever to share this with the dude…like NONE. It was a sweeter rendition of the classic southern cornbread. And, here is the awesome part: it actually had bits of corn in it. Simply amazing. Buttery, smooth, decadent…I would definitely go back and have this. I would actually hit the treadmill a little longer just so I can indulge this on a daily basis if I could. If you like cornbread, I highly recommend this. 10/10

Bacon Mac-n-Cheese

Priced at a meagre $6, this dish was definitely filling with a fair share of crispy bacon and cheesy goodness. It came out bubbling with cheese and bacon, twas a beautiful sight indeed. I wish there was a little bit more spice in this, but the dude thoroughly enjoyed this as it was. I preferred to spike it up a little with some good ol’ scotch bonnet pepper sauce! I must say that the texture of this mac-n-cheese was incredibly creamy and smooth. It’s pretty hard to pull off a perfectly creamy mac-n-cheese made from scratch, so kudos to Harlem Underground on that! 8/10

Southern-Fried Chicken & Waffles 
Served with a scotch bonette-corriander-lime syrup, maple syrup and a gravy sauce.

The southern-fried chicken was perfectly done. Crispy on the outside and cooked well on the inside whilst being tender and juicy. Chicken is so easy to overcook so it’s actually awesome that they got these varying textures going on. One thing that I would suggest is more spice in their seasoning; the crispy outer of what could have been an amazing 10/10 meal was slightly lacking in flavour. The waffles however were wonderful. I loved the light, fluffy texture of them. It is safe to say that these are by far my favourite waffles, EVER. As a result I will give this dish an 8/10.

Of course, if I am going to have the best waffles in the world I obviously MUST go in on the maple sizzurp…which I clearly did. HIGHLY RECOMMEND these babies! 10/10 (for the waffles alone).

Black Bottom Chocolate Pecan Pie
Gooey pecan pie with a velvety smooth custard like filling, inside a chocolate shortbread crust and topped with pecans and drizzled with chocolate ganache.

I’ve actually never had a pecan pie before in my life. I’m glad this was my first. It was pretty damn magnificent if I may say so myself. Apparently Underground Harlem actually gets their desserts from Wanda’s Pie in The Sky which is based out of Kensington Market (I’m actually thinking about reviewing them separately after taking a look at what they offer). This pie most definitely sent me to my happy place somewhere in the sky, haha. You can check out Wanda’s website . I give this pie a 9.5/10 (would have been an 11/10 if it was warmer – sorry guys, that’s just the way the pie crust crumbles).

So, I guess I can really conclude by saying that this restaurant is definitely on my list of spots that I’d highly recommend. (I swear to you this isn’t a sponsored post, lawl. For true, bro.) Based on all the reasons above, along with how I felt about the service and just the overall vibe of the restaurant I’d give this spot a 9/10. If you are looking for some Southern lovin’ or just somewhere different to try out, this is zee place for you my friend. Check it out and let me know how you like it!

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