Toronto Bites: Harlem Underground

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Harlem Underground was quiet when my friends and I walked in – all the better for a catch-up birthday dinner!

Last week, a friend of mine picked Harlem Underground for her 22nd birthday celebration, and it was the first time I had the opportunity to dine there. It is a cozy little establishment, a great place for friends wanting to catch up for a couple of hours over food and drinks.

Upon walking into the restaurant, my first thought was that it was the perfect place to celebrate with the birthday girl. The seats were cozy, the restaurant was immaculate, and because it was a weekday night there were barely any other people there besides us three. We were allowed to pick our seats because it was not busy, so we chose spots right beside the big window looking out onto the sidewalk. Plus, they played Michael Jackson songs all throughout our stay, which was a definite (albeit coincidental) plus due to the man being one of the celebrant’s favourite performers. Our server was also incredibly helpful and cheerful, especially considering that she was the only one working the floor that night!

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The menu, and my plate of food: I had their Guinness Marinated Chicken with a side of Coconut Rice and Collard Greens.

I ordered the Guinness Marinated Chicken with a side of Coconut Rice and Collard Greens. I was super excited about this particular dish because I had never eaten anything cooked with beer before. I thought that it was high time that I finally did, and when I saw that Harlem offered a dish that involved beer, my choice was made.

Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed. Our mains took quite a while to come out, and by that, I mean close to half an hour. We didn’t really notice it because we were busy catching up, but that was a wait time atypical of slow days in restaurants. When we finally got our meals, I was ravenous and dug in almost immediately. The chicken was tender and the portion size was huge, but the biggest disappointment was that it was mediocre. I was expecting a different sort of flavour in my mouth, and truthfully, the dish I ordered was rather bland. The portion was big enough that my hunger was quelled, but that was the only outstanding factor to it. The coconut rice was also adequate, nothing to write home about. As for the collard greens, I have never had them before so I am unsure as to what they should taste like. I will say that my portion seemed rather under seasoned, like everything on my plate.

However, as I said earlier, I do still feel like it was a great place to hang out with friends, for drinks and a meal. Rather pricey if you’re on a student budget, but still doable.

Overall rating: 2.5/5, would go there again, but I would definitely order a different dish.

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