Chocolat Restaurant and Lounge helped to establish Harlem’s Restaurant Row
On a recent visit to CHOCOLÀT Restaurant and Lounge on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 120th street I was introduced to the new menu items by Executive Chef Joseph Guittierez, which included a tasty selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
Sitting comfortably at the chef’s table, I was also welcomed by Chocolat owner Leon Ellis, who has played a pioneering role in the development of this increasingly popular dining destination along Frederick Douglass Boulevard known as Harlem Restaurant Row. Sure, this stretch of restaurants along the avenue is hot now, but as we talked about our memories of how far this area has come since the days when crime was high with burned out buildings and crack dens in the neighborhood, it was easy to see how people thought Ellis was crazy when he first opened his other establishment Moca Lounge just across the street ten years ago. It’s only fitting that his restaurant CHOCOLÀT is perfectly located smack in the middle of this new thriving Restaurant Row on FDB, surrounded by all of the other new restaurants along the avenue.
CHOCOLÀT has a revamped menu this summer, adding new dishes to their already extensive selection of eclectic American comfort food. Have a look at some of the items on the menu:
Blackened Mahi Mahi Satay
Shrimp and Watermelon Salad
Crumbled goat cheese, basil, lemon vinaigrette
Famous Sesame Calamari Salad
Asian greens, Miso ginger dressing, peanut sauce, scallions, and sesame seeds
Short Rib Empanada
potato, sazon, pico de gallo
rice and peas with sweet plantains
Southern Crispy Yard Bird
corn on the cobb, watermelon salad, with honey cayenne sauce
Grilled Scottish Salmon Fillet
sauteed kale, crispy leeks, mango coulis
Jamaican Black Cake a la Mode
Pastellas with Guave and Queso
While tasting these succulent dishes, I had the pleasure of sitting across from Destination Harlem TV host Lydia Patel who expressed her appreciation for the authentic Jerk Chicken and Jamaican Black Cake to Chef Guittierez. Being from Trinidad, Lydia knew her Caribbean cuisine and she gave him a high five in the photo below, which he obviously appreciated.
CHOCOLÀT offers a comfortable and cool vibe for dining in the 120-seat dining area, or for enjoying drinks and one of the many cocktails available at the spacious bar (Happy Hours daily from 5pm – 8pm). Artwork on the walls and elegant lighting ad to the feel-good atmosphere in the space, and there is also an intimate private party room (pictured below) which is available to book for that special occasion.
With recently extended hours on weekends, the bar scene at Chocolat goes until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights. Brunch is also a lively affair on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 11am -4pm, with live Jazz performances going from 6-10pm on Sunday nights. Harlem residents and visitors should definitely put this restaurant on their go-to list of Hotspots uptown.
CHOCOLÀT Restaurant Lounge
2217-23 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (8th Ave.)
(Corner of 120th Street)
Harlem NY 10026