I don't get to Harlem nearly often enough. Two recent blues tribute concerts at the world famous Apollo Theater gave me ample excuse to celebrate the lives of Robert Johnson, the father of the blues, and of Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitarist and one of the greatest sons of the blues tradition started by Mr. Johnson. Of course I visited Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster to try the Afro-Swedish-Soul food and fantastic cocktails. But on my second trip north of 90th street, I found an even more compelling reason to visit Harlem: Earl's Beer and Cheese.
Just on the border of Harlem on Park Avenue between 97th and 98th, Earl's is literally a 2 seat bar with a single community table. Order from the amazing list of artisanal beers directly from the bartender but don't forget about the food. As the name suggests, the food is fromage centric. There's some gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and mac n' cheese, natch, but what drew my unswerving attention was the Earl's Eggo.
While one can debate whether Sylvia's or some other Harlem institution invented the iconic combination of waffles and fried chicken, it is undisputed that Earl's has invented something even better: waffles and foie gras. The perfectly round eggo is topped with some aged Cabot cheddar, coffee-cured slab bacon and what appears to be about half a lobe of foie gras. The whole thing is then drizzled with viscous maple syrup.
Forget about Iron Chef wannabe Samuelsson. Earl's lesser known chef Corey Cova learned his chops under Iron Chefs Symon and Morimoto before soaking up the vibes at David Chang's Momofuku Ssam Bar. Nice resume! The eggo foie dish, however, reminded me more of the insane porky foie gras strewn dishes I'd get in Montreal at Au Pied de Cochon, the same restaurant that spawned M. Wells in Queens.
Looks like another Harlem renaissance is upon us.