Harlem is truly becoming one of the best parts of Manhattan when it comes to the food scene that is vibrant and incredible there. No longer do we need to stick to mid and downtown for our foodie finds, now we find ourselves hopping on the 2/3 and 4/5/6 for our next delicious discovery. I found that and then some at Clay, nestled in the heart of Harlem on Manhattan Avenue between 122nd and 123rd street.
Clay has been opened for less than a year, and fits right in with one of the more gorgeous areas of Harlem. Only a couple of blocks away from the blue subway lines, it is an intimate experience that works beautifully with the gorgeous brownstones that adorn Manhattan Avenue as Clay itself sneaks up on you and becomes a place you’ll want to invite yourself in for.
It truly is intimacy personified with its warm lighting that works perfectly well with the winter weather we are experiencing, and is a similar size to the types of restaurants we are seeing down in the Upper West Side. What’s even greater for it is that it is the only restaurant on Manhattan Avenue for at least seven blocks, as it came out of nowhere on my walk up after taking the M102 bus across town and landed on the corner of 116th.
A big trend that is happening at many restaurants here in Manhattan is the importance of sourcing locally when it comes to finding the best ingredients, and Clay does that proudly. which is definitely shown in its expertly done cuisine that left us wanting more. I am literally salivating thinking about what we had for dinner that night, as I could go back for seconds, thirds and even ask for a doggie bag for a late night snack.
Let me tell you, emphatically, what to get when you arrive at Clay. Two starters that really got us going, one cold and one on the warmer side, was their Roasted Nuts, fried sage & buckwheat as well as their Wagyu Tartare with pickled shallots, celery root & cured egg yolk. The former in this situation is the warmer element, of course, and had such a great amount of savory and sweet to it that it made for an elevated starter course that rivals any street vendor serving these all day long (even better, honestly). Wagyu is one of the best slices of beef out there, so naturally it works very well tartare style and its components that go along with just make the overall concept taste that much better.
Let’s skip over to the entree side. The easiest option for me here was their Chicken Breast with potato, heirloom rainbow carrot, nigella and chicken jus. There’s so much right about this dish, I don’t know where to start. Jus is something I could bathe myself in, and is used in the right amount on this dish because everything else tastes perfectly with it. The skin that is on the chicken breast was out of this world fantastic, and it works so well with the rest of it to make this one of the best plates I’ve had all year round.
If you are jonesing for a side, then their Cauliflower with tumeric and honey will do the trick. Especially with the Chicken Breast entree, yum. For dessert, if you still have room left in you, their Mini Doughnuts and Chocolate Budino with merengue chips and spiced candied pecans are two separate desserts that you should order and indulge at the same time as the richness from both is evident and done so well. Who the heck doesn’t love doughnuts or chocolate? You should be studied if you don’t
Just go to Clay, they’ll love you and you’ll love them upon your exit. For more information on Clay, please check out their official website.