By Kysha Harris
Experiencing Harlem means to have witnessed or been part of the changes in our neighborhood. New places open that have become our favorite restaurants, stores, spaces and some of our favorites have unfortunately closed. We continue to site them for their contribution to the landscape as it now exists. This is why we were so happy to be invited to the first taste of Chef Alexander Smalls revival of the former Harlem hotspot, The Cecil, on 118th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
The freshly renovated space was clean, modern and open. The staff was ready to serve. We started with spicy shrimp over a yam flapjack with piri piri sauce, collard green salad with coconut dressing, and oxtail dumplings with apple curry sauce. You must go if just for those oxtail dumplings!
We made sure to get a little something from each section of the menu for our entrees: fried black rice with smoked pork spare ribs and black pepper sauce from the wok menu, roasted poussin with sticky curry coconut rice and long beans, macaroni and cheese with pepper ham for two and a side of okra fries. Oh, those okra fries!
The Cecil offers great African Asian flavor combinations in a friendly, bright and inviting space. We are looking forward to spending many hours there and in the new Minton’s next door.