Nestled in the bustling streets of Queen St. West sits a humble yet favoured joint offering a delicious array of soul food at it's finest.
A family-runned business -- the owner's daughter was the one serving my table and another relative serving customers and bar-tending -- from their smiles and constant friendly tones and the way they treated regulars and also newbies, Harlem Underground proves it's all about family and good food here.
I am loving the intimate yet spirited design. Perfect spot for a brunch with friends or a first-date dinner or even hosting events - deep crimson walls, opulent and stylish light fixtures and exclusive art from local Toronto artists and a mixture of jazz, funk, R&B and reggae music playing in the background.
The Harlem Underground can be booked up entirely for bigger events but also offers additional space and private coves in the back of the restaurant should you want to host more smaller events.
Check your calorie-counting at the door -- their menu lineup will be sure to please your palate and cravings, but definitely not your scale.
With popular dishes like their infamous Southern Fried Chicken & Waffles, the palatable Corn Bread or the Blackened Catfish, you will not leave here hungry... maybe a couple pounds heavier but satisfied. And really that's all that matters. You won't care after you try the food here.
Digging their Drinks Menu!
I tried the Miles Davis (a new favourite!) with Jamaican Overproof Rum, Peach Schnapps, Mango, Passion Fruit Juice and Lemon.
And I also sipped on the Harlem Hustle and Harlem Kool-Aide - both refreshingly good!
|The Miles Davis|
How boss are those menus replicating Vinyl Records?
I was really itching to try their Harlem Benny or Harlem French Toast for Brunch but I came in a little too late so decided to go ahead and sample their enticing dinner menu.
For starters, we ordered the Corn Bread (of course!), Deep Fried Pickles, Candied Plantains and Catfish Lafayette.
The way corn bread should taste - slather on that butter too. Mmm, mmm, good! It's a crime to come to Harlem Underground and not have their Corn Bread.
Loved the Deep Fried Pickles! Perfect with the side sauce.
The Candied Plantains instantly made me smack my lips in delight. Made with Ripe Plantain sautéed in a brown sugar caramel sauce. This is another must-have when you're here.
Admittedly, I've never had catfish before. Decided to give the Catfish Lafayette a whirl - Seasoned deep fried morsels with a sweet chili hot sauce. It was pretty good! A nice amount to share between two people.
One of the dishes I've actually heard quite a bit about from others was their Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles. Really? There is a place in Toronto that is dishing out some good Chicken & Waffles?
I have plenty of family in Los Angeles and also had the opportunity to try the famous Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles in Long Beach so you can imagine where my Chicken & Waffles Radar was situated.
My husband is also a fried chicken connoisseur, he makes some of the best southern fried chicken I've ever had, so I allowed him to take the first bites.
With a quiet nod and head buried in his meal, I got his answer.
I tried it for myself and although I wished the chicken had just a teeny bit more flavour, it was perfectly cooked and crisped on the outside and the waffles with syrup was amazing.
They paired so well together and to be quite honest, I am CRAVING it right now.
I ordered the Harlem Jambalaya - a blend of Catfish, shrimp, chicken & sausage all harmoniously singing in this traditional dish.
Really enjoyed this dish; it was flavoured perfectly and they were not stingy with the amount of catfish, shrimp, chicken and sausage.
Harlem Undergound has made "the CAC list" of favourite eateries in Toronto and if you haven't visited yet and are in the mood for some seriously yummy comfort food, celebrate the joy of Toronto’s cultural diversity and the art of entertaining with Harlem Underground.
On a side courtesy note: If you plan to drive here, it is next to impossible to find close meter parking, so give yourself some time ahead if you make reservations and best to drive about a block or two up and take advantage of the paid parking lots. Or better yet, take the transit or taxi here!
To learn more, visit www.harlemrestaurant.com/#underground and also on Facebook and Twitter at @Harlem1920
745 Queen St West
Toronto, ON M6J 1G1
Disclosure: Dining was all complimentary for a complete review; however as always, all opinions expressed are my very own.