Another birthday has passed for me but not without fanfare, laughs, hugs, smiles and some good old food and drink in the hood and the city. As it mostly does, my birthday fell on the Memorial Day holiday. That meant friends and family had the day off to celebrate with me. And what a gorgeous day it was, too!

My birthday aimed to start early with a bike ride downtown for brunch—the first bike ride of the season. I was nervous about getting my cycling legs back in action, but my friend Katrina allayed any fears with a smile and a vote of confidence to lead our caravan of two.

Down Broadway we road en route to the brunch destination until I saw Silvermoon Bakery (@SilvermoonBakes) and surmised quickly we should stop for my favorite whole wheat dark chocolate scone. It was my birthday after all. A couple of quick nibbles to satisfy the itch then continued off to Amsterdam and 81st Street.

Photos by Kysha Harris

We arrived at Sarabeth’s (@SarabethsNYC) to a wait (no surprise there), but the pause gave us a reason to catch up quickly, even before sitting down. When we did, the brunch gods bestowed a prime seat outside. Hooray!

While I thought the crab cake benedict was calling, it was only a message to say they were out, so I settled on seafood Cobb salad. However, their awesome signature velvety tomato soup is always on speed dial to start and worth the calories. Having made this soup before, I know exactly why I love it. It did not disappoint.

After brunch, we made our way back uptown to Harlem. We stopped off at Katrina’s new lifestyle gift boutique NiLu (@ShopNiLu) to check in and to pull off what turned out to be a ruse to keep me occupied while her little ones put the finishing touches on my first-ever surprise party at their house. Thank you, Nigel and Luke, for the delicious lemon cake and hugs!

Next up, my big sister Heather invited me to Harlem Tavern (@HarlemTavern) for a birthday drink. A banana pina colada with a beaker filled with rum inverted would start the adult portion of celebrating. Sun, my sister and our friend Gino made me giggle. Thank you!

Finally, for the evening part of the birthday, my man Mark took me to dinner at the newly opened Serafina (@SerafinaHarlem, 1260 Amsterdam Ave., 917-475-1449, for some Italian love. We arrived in time to get yet another prime seat right in front of the large open windows.

The interior of Serafina is all the charm we’ve come to expect from the Italian eatery: full bar, beautiful mosaic pizza oven and legs of prosciutto hanging from the ceiling. There is also additional seating in the back that’s great for private events. We had a respectable meal that started with burrata and prosciutto antipasto and green salad. He had the steak salad and I went in on some too al dente ricotta black truffle ravioli.

Serafina Harlem has a few kinks that need to be worked out. Yes, it was one week into opening and they were short staffed in the kitchen on a holiday, no less. However, I wish the shortcomings didn’t come out in the food. I will try again once they get their Harlem-legs under them.

The end of the evening dessert came graciously by way of AmNewsFOOD Harlem EatUp! winner Angela Fuller of Simplicious Foods with a freshly made vegan coconut cake. It was unbelievable! When you see that cake, pick yourself up a slice. You will be amazed!

Thank you to all who helped paint my day and to Harlem for being the glorious canvas it is. I appreciate you!

Now don’t miss a bite of the new Amsterdam News food section “#AmNewsFOOD” by following us on Twitter and Instagram at @NYAmNewsFOOD for all things food in and around Harlem and greater New York City, too.

Correction: The Harlem EatUp! festival anticipates a donation of $70,000 towards its beneficiaries, Citymeals-on-Wheels and Harlem Park to Park, not $90,000 as reported in last week’s column.

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, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at