My guidebook so recommend Silvia’s that they actually have two pictures of Silvia’s in the book. The guidebook said that Silvia’s is a very well known soul food restaurant and is perhaps the best there is in New York. Among their customers include Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Magic Johnson … so this place gotta to be good.
The only problem to me is that it is located in Harlem. I have always heard that a visitor to New York should not venture to Harlem especially at night. But being a risk taker that I am, I went anyway … at night, for dinner. OK, New Yorkers … tell me … was I foolhardy to go to Harlem at night or is it all in my mind.
Getting off the 125th Street subway station, I could immediately see that I am in a part of NYC that is so different from Manhattan. Here I am a very visible Asian guy right smack in the middle of the black community. I sure stuck out like a sire thumb. 🙂
I knew already where I was going. Silvia’s is just 1 block north of the subway station. I got to the street level, got my bearings and just walk as fast as I can. Finding Silvia’s is easy because they are the brightest along quite a dark stretch of street. In case you want to know the address, it is on 328 Lenox Ave.
Going into the restaurant, it was no different. I am the only non-black in the restaurant. But the service was excellent and very very courteous. I am beginning to enjoy myself in this unique place. I remembered that the place was noisy … loud talking, laughing and very very loud music … basically, people here are all having a great time.
I asked for some real authentic beer of theirs … some really New Yorky type. They recommended the Sugar Hill Brown Ale and is brewed by the Harlem Brewing Company. Well, I figure that for a beer named after a neighborhood in Harlem (Sugar Hill), I can’t get more authentic than that. I like the slight balanced sweetness and aroma.
They have a small menu — very simple choices. I was not particularly impressed with the type-written menu but then who really cares right? It’s the food that matters. There are so many I wanted to order.
I started off with bread … corn bread, I think. It was served warm and soft … and crumbly. Made a mess of my table with all the pieces of crumbs. It was really great with soft corn oil and whipped spread.
They asked me if I wanted more … how could one resist? I had more.
I ordered their famous BBQ Ribs. The pork ribs are huge and are BBQ’d in a rich, sweetened sauce. The four ribs are all BBQ’d to crisp … very nice. Wished they offered me second helpings!
This came with a choice of two sides. I thought, what is soul food without collard green? Not that I love collard green, it’s just that it’s so … soulish.
The second sides I had was the okra and tomato gumbo. It’s such a small bowl of it … wished there were more.
There was on the table Silvia’s very own Hot and Sassy Sauce. This one I had was their hottest … called the Triple Strength. It was OK … not really hot coming from where I came from.
I really enjoyed myself despite my fear of Harlem. I scooted off to the Subway once I got out of the restaurant. Tell me again … is it just me or is Harlem really that dangerous a place at night.