It has been a while since I wanted to try Sylvia's, a restaurant that is an institution in Harlem, celebrating 51 years of existence. Why did I want to go? For their fried chicken and waffles. I heard so many times that they are the best in New York City, I had to taste it! We decided to go on a Saturday, as Sundays are apparently crowded. We went early and were lucky that the restaurant was not that packed. The place is interesting because it is as if time stopped at some point and you get the feel that it is more or less the way it was when it opened. The table and chairs reminded me of a banquet room. I truly appreciated the fact that tables were, for the most part, not too close to each other, giving a bit of privacy to the patrons.
To confirm this restaurant is an institution, photos of celebrities are all over the walls and, if you are a fan, you can leave a message or your signature next to the photo of the founder, Sylvia Wood aka The Queen of Soul Food who past away last year.
When it comes to food, Sylvia's offers authentic Southern dishes. While Jodi was focussing on dessert, I was excited to try the fried chicken and waffles. This is an interesting combination that I first discovered at The Pink Tea cup, two years ago, in one of their location downtown that closed since. Then, at Ken and Cook (pretty good, but white meat only) and Southern Hospitality (not their best, but still one of my favorite BBQ restaurants).
While waiting for our dishes, they brought us some biscuits, fresh and warm, perfect with a bit of butter.
The food took some time to come, a long time, and finally, they brought our order! Jodi had a salad:
The Mac & Cheese was just ok. Not as creamy as I like. By the way, I also got a little bowl of it, coming with my dish!
So, it was time to try the chicken and waffles.
The presentation is simple: waffle on one side, with some butter on top, chicken on the other side. After spreading some syrup on the chicken, I drizzled a generous amount of syrup that was, fortunately, not too sweet (I hate when they serve cheap syrup with great waffles or pancakes: it kills the dish!). The waffles were delicious: soft and chewy. My next bite was the chicken. At that moment, I understood why Sylvia's has such a reputation: the chicken was cooked all the way through and was very moist. The coating was thin, crispy and not greasy, very good with or without chicken.
It was then time for dessert...I was already full but still wanted to try a classic dessert. Jodi went for the coconut cake:
It was a large piece of cake that was good, but a bit disappointing because it was just a cake with coconut flakes on top instead of a true coconut cake where the coconut is used in the batter or between the two layers.
I ordered the banana pudding.
It was appetizing but just ok for me, not as memorable as the banana pudding at Southern Hospitality. This one was a bit dry, maybe because the Nilla wafers were not soaked enough. It was good, but I would not pick that next time, because I am sure there will be a next time!
Enjoy (I did enjoy the chicken, yes I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!