It happened one Saturday night, three weeks ago, when two friends and I entered the restaurant, Angel of Harlem. This Upper-Manhattan eatery, bar and lounge is located at 2272 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (FDB) at 122nd Street, New York, NY 10027.
Angel of Harlem is a Latin-Caribbean restaurant where good friends meet for good food and good music. It felt like a celebration throughout the evening with: the serving staff gliding across the voluminous space with platters of delight, the rhythmic sounds from the D.J. “Just Dimy” and wide-eyed smiles in the fashionable eatery on Eighth Avenue.
Right away, our waiter approached the table and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Afika, welcome,” placing the menus on the table. “Would you like to order cocktails first?”
“No, could you come back?” I asked, staring down at our choices.
“Sure,” he replied, “I’ll be right back.” Adrienne, Kelli and I glanced at some of their delectables.
Cocktails: Flirtini (Belvedere, Strawberry, Mango Puree, Lime, Basil); Caribbean Queen (Wray & Newphew Rum, Guava, Mango, Sorrel, Ginger, Nutmeg); Old Thymer (Jack Daniels, Ginger Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Thyme).
Starters: Guacamole, Salsa & Chips; Pepper Prawns (Scotch Bonnet, Cilantro, Citrus with Plantain Chips); Short Rib Nachos (Braised Short Rib, Three Cheese Sauce, Sour Cream, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Corn Tortillas); Guava BBQ Wings (Zesty Remoulade Sauce).
Mains: Latin Flatbread (Herb Bechamel, Rock Shrimp, Pineapple, Spanish Ham, Queso Fresco, Mozzarella); 8th Avenue Burger & Yucca Fries (Short Rib, White Cheddar, Avocado Mayo, Fried Onion, Manchego Cheese); Ginger Glazed Salmon (Ginger-Honey Glaze, Roasted Sweet Potato Wedge, Sautéed Kale).
Just in time, our waiter returned.
“I’ll have the Ginger Glazed Salmon,” Adrienne said, “and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.”
“I can’t decide,” I added. “Everything looks delicious.”
“Why don’t we share the Guava Barbecue Wings,” Kelli suggested, “for starters?”
And the night was a symphony of sauces, smiles and good spirits.
Several hours later, we were preparing to leave. I noticed a sign over the open kitchen: “Harlem State of Mind,” with three men making their magic in front of the stove.
“Hi, what are your names? My friends and I enjoyed our meals.”
“Troy and Johnny and Jesus,” one said; all chefs grinned.
In same moment, I saw our waiter, Afika. “Is the manager here? I would like to tell him how lovely everything was.”
“Sure, I will bring him over.”
“Before you do,” Adrienne interjected, “I would like to order the Short Rib Nachos—to go.”
The music was bouncing in the background, people at the bar were swinging to the beat and gazing at the television screens. Other patrons were walking about and taking in the photography exhibit on Cuba by Aurora Fiorentino Scerbo.
Suddenly, Afika approached us. “This is Casimir, our manger.”
“Hello,” he said, extending his hand. “I heard you ladies like Angel of Harlem.”
“Yes,” I remarked. “My friends and I decided we will come back.”
“Great, we really like being here in the neighborhood. We have great team. Our customers tell us they like the menu, the ambience and our style of Latin-Caribbean cuisine.”
“Congratulations, and everyone has been nice,” I responded. “Right away, from being greeted by Andrean, the hostman, to our waiter, and the music—it’s splendid.”
Mr. Casimir extended his hands to us all, displaying a gracious-smile.
Catch it if you can at https://www.facebook.com/AngelofHarlemNY/info and www.AngelOfHarlemNYC.com