Harlem Tavern vs Bier International

And the winner is… Bier International (IMHO).

After bombing out trying to get into Harlem Tavern last week, we tried again early this afternoon and had no problem getting a table. Unfortunately it was sorta what I expected (based on the pics I saw on Harlem Bespoke) – very middle America – sorta dull actually.

The patio at Harlem Tavern

The beer that comes with brunch is Bud Light (yawn). And they have every other standard beer you can think of. Other than a selection of IPAs (which my niece likes), I didn’t really see anything beer-wise that came anywhere close to Bier’s beer selection.

As far as food, it’s pretty to look at (I should have taken a picture), but pretty bland too. I had the turkey burger with fries, Dan had the beef burger with a salad. Despite putting some interesting cheese on it, the turkey burger just didn’t stand out. Dan noted that the lettuce for his salad had been chopped with a knife – that promotes oxidation and just makes for a less interesting salad. He also thought the food was less fresh than it is at Bier. In comparison, everything I’ve had at Bier has met or exceeded expectations. In fact at Bier things are unexpectedly good – there’s always a slight flavor kick to the food at Bier that makes it interesting.

Harlem Tavern’s decor is the biggest turn off for me… It’s like you’re at Applebee’s or something… Like the food and the beer selection – it’s incredibly bland.

And honestly, I was a bit disturbed that they had the A/C on full blast inside with a huge wall of french doors completely wide open – it’s just wasteful for no good reason. Well, there was live music – but just keep the doors by them open and close the others…

So if you want bland decor with bland food and bland beer – go to Harlem Tavern. If you want a well-designed space with an unusual selection of interesting beers and surprisingly good food – go 2 1/2 block south to Bier International.

Where “The Gays” Are In Harlem

I used to hate the term “the gays” because the only people I heard saying it were bigots. Now it seems everyone uses it, and it’s shorter than “gay men and lesbians” so it fits in the title, but I still feel weird using it…

Anyway, that said… I’ve heard for a long time that you can tell when a neighborhood is going to gentrify by whether “the gays” move in… Specifically gay men – since we don’t have the same level of safety issues that women have, and we don’t (traditionally) have kids, so we aren’t worried about how good the schools are. Some of us learned how to fix things from our fathers, and some of us have a sense of style. (I’m always amused by the ones who don’t.)

If you subscribe the the “gentrification follows gay men” theory, then you’ll find the following interesting…

WNYC has done a map that plots where gay and lesbian couples live. Here’s the results for Central and South Harlem…

Gay & Lesbian Couples in Harlem

I’m not quite sure what to think of the fact that we dominate Morningside Park, but you can see that the Mount Morris Park neighborhood is pretty popular with gay men and lesbians. Somewhat surprisingly South Harlem doesn’t have all that many gay and lesbian couples – just right on the border with the Upper West Side. The area between Lenox and 5th Avenue around Astor Row seems pretty popular as well.

Now if we could just get a gay bar somewhere near Red Rooster – that would be perfect 🙂

Apparently West Harlem is much less gay…

Gay and Lesbian Couples in West Harlem

It seems that the new condo developments just off Bradhurst are popular with gay men and lesbians, but otherwise the neighborhood is pretty average. What’s interesting also is the low number of gay men and lesbians in Hamilton Heights west of Amsterdam Avenue. That neighborhood isn’t as well established as the historic district which is mostly east of Amsterdam.

So the take away from this is that gay men and lesbians seem to gravitate towards quality… Areas with new condos and historic districts have a greater concentration of gays, while areas with large housing projects have far fewer gay men and lesbians. Personally I think the “gentrification follows gay men” theory is generally proven right by the maps above…

Harlem Tavern Is Crazy Busy

After dropping by the house today we decided to check out Harlem Tavern – it opened a couple weeks ago while we were away in Toronto. It’s still crazy busy – there was a pretty big line to get in and the bouncer manning the entrance couldn’t tell us how long the wait would be. He guessed it would be 45 minutes (!).

Crowd at Harlem Tavern

I guess it’s a good thing that people are patronizing places on FDB. In the end that will encourage more businesses to open up and make the neighborhood a better place to live. But I gotta say the love for this one particular place sorta mystifies me.

We wound up going to Bad Horse Pizza instead. It was about half full and the kids that were there were very well behaved (unlike the first time we went there).