The River Room (formerly Earl Monroe’s)

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On paper, this venture way uptown must have seemed like a slam-dunk: The place has a celebrity owner (former NBA star “Earl the Pearl”), a pedigree chef (Christopher Faulkner, who worked with Geoffrey Zackarian at Town), and great river views. But something went awry between the concept and the reality. Cut off by the highway in an odd state-park location, Monroe’s is a Harlem restaurant that’s not really in Harlem. Its high steel-beamed ceilings call to mind a vast hotel lobby or a repurposed park service shed. And morphing lights in Miami Beach colors don’t do much to enliven the dated late-’80s vibe. The chef cannot be faulted: He works with Latin and American comfort foods to produce sweet-sticky pulled pork tamales and creamy pan-fried mac-and-cheese croquettes. His duck, crisp on the edges and tender inside, gets a tasty mole that’s scented like mocha. At $16 per entrée, the prices are high for the neighborhood, and not quite alluring enough to make this a destination dining spot. And despite the name on the door, there’s no Knicks memorabilia to lure gawking fans.

Venue name: The River Room (formerly Earl Monroe’s)
Address: 145th St
New York

Cross street: at Riverside Drive
Opening hours: Mon–Thu, Sun 5:30–10pm, Fri, Sat 5:30–11pm
Transport: Subway: A, C, B, D, 1 to 145th St
Price: Average main course: $16. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V
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