Unlike watching cinematic love scenes with your parents, food has the power to comfort the soul. Dodge future moments of uneasiness with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of American comfort food, drinks, and more at Melba's in Harlem.
Since opening in 2005, Melba's has slow-cooked its way into the heart of Harlem. Owner Melba Wilson has muscled her way to comfort-food supremacy via the Food Network's Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, where her plate of southern fried chicken, eggnog waffles, and strawberry butter scored a sweet and savory knock out ($14.95). Go on to fulfill lactose-centric dreams with Melba's Tres mac 'n' cheese, a gooey, house-made bowl of pepper jack, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses mixed with elbows of the non joint-related variety ($12.95). Brunch menus pit sweet-potato pancakes ($8.95), omelets (starting at $7.95), and French toast ($8.95) against one another like edible stacks of cards, and fresh fruit ($6.95) and grilled-salmon salad ($10.95) put a healthier hand in play. Stay postmeal and rub real elbows with everyone from local politicians to neighborhood regulars in an exposed-brick dining room that clamors with antiquity, thanks to its 111-year-old chandeliers, reflective marble bar, and reflective 111-year-olds swinging from chandeliers.
With its softly lit dining room and heaped plates of soul food, Harlem eatery Melba's might strike the perfect balance of coziness and elegance. “People always feel like they’re going home when they go to Melba’s,” owner Melba Wilson told Daily News.
Southern Soul Food with a Harlem Twist
Wilson drew on a treasure trove of memories while creating her menu. Born and raised in Harlem, she serves dishes that reflect the neighborhood's cultural intersections as well as her family's southern roots. Her kitchen turns out spring rolls stuffed with collards, black-eyed peas, and red rice, and main courses such as wine-braised short ribs or buttermilk-dredged fried chicken with eggnog waffles.
What the Experts Say
- Bobby Flay, host of Food Network's "Throwdown! With Bobby Flay", declared Wilson the "queen bee" of chicken and waffles after facing off with her in a cooking challenge.
- A blogger at Serious Eats called Wilson's complicated winning recipe "the work of a mad woman," but added that "when all the elements come together (and are doused with syrup) it's insane in the most delicious way."
- They might not be culinary experts, but celebrities such as Katy Perry and Pharrell have been spotted stopping by Melba's for a plate of comfort food and a hug from the owner.