The second annual Harlem EatUp! festival (@HarlemEatUp!) is only one week away! Another food-filled weekend of dinners, tastings, demos, art and more will go down for all to enjoy. The festival is a great way to reconnect with friends and neighbors in a convivial atmosphere in our village of Harlem. This year I am hoping to reconnect with some food.
Some of my favorite events of Harlem EatUp! are the Dine Ins where local restaurants team up with chefs from other parts of the city and country to create a one-of-a-kind, one-night-only dinner. Last year had me starting at my favorite Vinateria and ending at the Cecil. Both locales put it down.
This year it is the mystical and elusive Mountain Bird (@MountainBirdNYC, 251 East 110th St., 212.744.4422, www.mountainbirdnyc.com) where I hope to dine. Together with Michelin-starred, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Andy Ricker (@Pawkhura) of Red Hook and Brooklyn’s Pok Pok NY, the night is sure to be transformative.
My first experience with Mountain Bird was a happenstance encounter at their original location on 145th Street in 2013. While sauntering around my old neighborhood, I stumbled upon their French lace-curtained window. Inside I found an eclectic bistro and a case filled with pastries.
I ordered a coffee and the most delicious, light, not too sweet banana and dark chocolate layer cake while looking over their dinner menu. A tear came to my eye for how amazingly good this cake was. I promised owner Keiko Tajima I would return.
Three years later, and in a new location, I finally got to dine at the head-to-talon poultry restaurant and eat what chef Kenichi Tajima is cooking. With a couple of friends in tow we arrived to the small eatery ready for the magic.
Of course we started with cocktails and wine. I couldn’t decide from their short list but because it was Kentucky Derby Saturday, I settled on the Elder Fashioned bourbon cocktail with elderflower syrup bitters and an orange twist. The friends had one of the featured Harlem EatUp! Wines of Bordeaux, as $1 goes to the beneficiaries of the festival.
The team at Mountain Bird provided me with their bite-size head-to-toe sampler ($11) of cockscomb cutlet with grain mustard, liver mouse and cranberry nut bonbon, chicken heart puff pastry and wing lollipop with balsamic truffle glaze (more on these to come). This was the perfect start to the meal.
I then moved on to shrimp mac and cheese ($16) of whole grain elbow pasta bathed in both lobster bisque and shrimp vanilla cream sauce. Like no mac and cheese you have ever had!
Then the entrée, Moulard duck duo ($32), which was BOMB (in the affirmative)! Per-fect-ly roasted rare breast and gorgeous crispy leg confit (cooked in its own fat) served with cherry brandy sauce (the chef’s sauce game is on point) and the most cared for vegetable medley EVER plus the greenest, freshest creamed spinach I’ve had (next to yours, Chef Boulud).
I can’t imagine how Ricker is going to add to the magic that is Mountain Bird. Luckily I won’t have to imagine. You don’t want to miss the opportunity for a unique meal and experience at Mountain Bird. Visit www.HarlemEatUp.com for more information and to buy tickets for this dinner and more!
So what did my friends eat? The dessert, Kysha? There is way more on my new favorite Harlem restaurant, including more food porn images of our meal, for you to enjoy on my blog at www.TalkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Follow AmNewsFOOD @NYAmNewsFOOD.