Deciding where to dine in New York City is always a tad stressful for me. How do I cram in as many restaurants as possible when time is limited? Soul food in Harlem has long been on my list, but where? There’s Marcus Samuelsson’s Redbird, and also Sylvia’s, somewhat of an institution in the area. Friends throw me ideas, but after some research, we booked an Uber and ride up to Harlem, arriving at Amy Ruth’s for an early dinner.
The restaurant is already busy and the aromas wafting inside the dining room is making me salivate. Perusing the extensive menu, I see it is laden with familiar dishes such as fried chicken — a definite — and I am happy to see that there are fish options for my pescatarian friend.
Before you get down to ordering, a basket of cornbread hits the table and we dig into them with relish. A slathering of butter creates a luxuriously rich mouth-feel, and it is hard to resist eating more.
The President Barack Obama ($15.95) is a chicken plate offering up your choice of fried, smothered, baked or BBQ chicken. We, of course, opted for fried chicken along with your choice of either dark or white meat and two sides. The chicken is perfection! Super crispy on the outside and very moist on the inside. What popped into my head was “Roscoe’s isn’t going to cut it for me anymore after this.”
We ordered the Fried Whiting ($8.95) for my pescatarian friend, but the two whole fish proved too delicious for the rest of us to forego. The lightly coated and deep fried whiting is extremely tender on the inside, flaking away when we pull the fish apart.
Latesha Anderson ($22.95) is shrimp (sautéed or fried) over a bed of creamy grits. The grits are fabulous and comforting, however, I didn’t care for the sautéed shrimp. In hindsight, perhaps the fried option might have been better.
Most dishes come with side dishes, or, you may order them a la carte. String Beans ($5) is typical — good, but not outstanding.
Fried Okra ($5) is not-to-be-missed. These little chunks of perfectly fried lovelies are addicting and mouthwatering good.
I’m a huge fan of Red Beans and Rice ($5), but have never had it served this way before. My past experiences with red beans and rice have always been rice that’s smothered with saucy red beans, or cooked to the consistency of paella with moisture attached to the rice. This version is dry, and meant to be eaten as an accompaniment to your main course, rather than on its own.
Homemade Collard Greens ($6) is true to its name. I always order greens because I make it at home and make comparisons. This is a solid offering, not greasy, possessing the smokiness commonly associated with collard greens.
Amy Ruth’s is exactly what I expect from a soul food restaurant. Solid comfort food which leaves me completely and utterly satisfied. I’m still dreaming about that fried whiting!
113 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026