Restaurants, Soul and southern American Harlem
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Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Roy Barnett Jr.

When it was opened in 2005 by the niece of the woman behind legendary Sylvia’s, Melba’s was heralded both for its neo-soul sensibility and as an emblem of a Harlem Renaissance developing along lower Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Though praise for its chicken and waffles from Bobby Flay on the Food Network followed, the dish turns out to be surprisingly dry and uninspired; it’s the “neo” aspect of the soul menu that is most successful. Spring rolls filled with black-eyed peas and collard greens are a small revelation, while braising the short ribs with wine brings out a mellow quality that blends well with their tenderness. Reason enough to skip the tour-bus crowds at Sylvia’s.


Venue name: Melba’s
Address: 300 W 114th St
New York
Cross street: at Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave)
Opening hours: Tue–Sat 5pm–10:30pm; Sun 10am–3pm, 5–11pm
Transport: Subway: B, C to 116th St
Price: Average main course: $14. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
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