Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Harlem Underground

Toronto's East and West sides both have a Harlem Underground to keep those deep-fried needs fuelled. I went with my friends Gillian and Misha to the West side location on Queen street, just east of Trinity Bellwoods. Convenience central! Which was great since our excursion took place in the middle of an awful cold snap.
The spicy comfort food couldn't have hit the spot better. We also had a laugh over some weird naming choices on the menu. 'Mississippi Masala'? Really? I don't think so!

Normally Harlem Underground does charge for their (apparently famous) cornbread at 3.50$, but it was a slow night. I'm chronically early, and was waiting for my friends maybe all of ten minutes when the server surprised me with these amazing morsels, since he felt bad I was waiting. I'd barely been there long! The servers were so friendly to us, I would recommend this place for them alone. The cornbread WAS excellent and moist.

This place knows how to batter 'em up. Was it a cornflake batter? Much lighter than a beer batter, but different from a tempura, I don't know what magic was used to make everything crunchy without feeling like a brick. Okra is a rare treat for me. We started with a plate for our appetizer. There was cracked black pepper in the batter that added so much to the natural spiciness of okra. The mayo was very dull though.


Ordered by Gillian, who stuck to apps for dinner. Even though the presentation was interesting, and the texture of the crisps was unique-like a very thin, crunchy flat bread- the dips were not exciting at all. The hummus didn't have enough body or garlic, and the guacamole just tasted like mashed avocado. I couldn't even tell if they had salted it.

In the end, just about everything we ate was battered and friend. And it was amazing! Catfish is wonderfully solid, and keeps its robustness after the terrors of the deep-fry. These morsels we almost like chicken in texture. The flavour was very subtle, not too fishy. The sauce was your typical Thai chili, and added a good kick. I should also mention, portion here are GENEROUS!! I thought it was a bit overpriced until our dishes arrived.

Amazing. So. Amazing. I have never had better waffles in my LIFE. Large, fluffy, and steaming fresh, it was like they were whipped with air. Oh my gosh! I could eat stacks. They didn't come with maple syrup, which was a bit bizarre. I would up really craving some. The dips that came with it weren't sweet enough for waffles, but went great with the chicken. There were three gigantic pieces on my plate, more than any mere mortal should be able to eat (I totally did). Again there was that thick and crunchy cornflake batter, this time with a hint of thyme in it, but the chicken inside was so tender I had to wonder if they had pre-stewed it.

This one takes the cake. Heaps of stewed chicken piled up on the plate. Are you hungry? Go to the Harlem Underground! They will kill you with their generosity. The chicken was absolutely coated in home made Guinness marinade. It was sweet and succulent. The meat fell right off the bone, and tasted even better mixed in the the mac-n-cheese (which by itself was a bit predictable). At the end of the meal the plate looked like a murder instrument, it was just covered in sauce.

Another review brought to you by VERWHO?
Harlem Underground on Urbanspoon


  1. Awesome! So excited to see Mishas giant hat immortalized in your style. :) i look so confused by the catfish!

  2. Your blog concept is amazing! You are very talented :)

    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog today. It meant the world to me!