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Zagat: The Cecil And Minton’s Lead Restaurant Renaissance In Harlem

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Two Harlem hotspots are leading a restaurant Renaissance in the neighborhood. Zagat editor Maureen Giannone filed the following report for NY1.

On the corner of 118th Street and St Nicholas Ave, the doors to Cecil and Minton's have reopened.

To Harlem, these neighborhood landmarks might be familiar in name but are undergoing a Renaissance by way of restaurateurs Richard Parsons and Alexander Smalls and their team.

"The Cecil Hotel was one of those places where Harlem elite, artists and celebrities and great musicians used to stay here. The Cecil is a celebration of the food of the African Diaspora, how Africa changed the culinary conversation globally through slavery, actually,” said Alexander Smalls, executive chef at Minton’s and The Cecil.

With dishes like wild-striped bass with jerk seasoning and oxtail dumplings, the kitchen is led by Chef de Cuisine Joseph "JJ" Johnson.

From an exotic meal at the Cecil, don't hesitate to continue the night by wandering "back in time" next door at Minton's. This boozy jazz den greets patrons with perfected improvisation from the stage to the plates.

"Bebop was born at Minton's, Bebop being the foundation of modern jazz. So I wanted to keep [the menu] uniquely American,” said Smalls.

Here, Chef de Cuisine Banks White serves up delicious dishes like the Hudson Valley seared foi gras on a pecan buttermilk biscuit to compliment live jazz performances hosted every night.

Whether it's the worldly food at the Cecil or the high-end southern fare at Minton's, it's evident that the jazz-age glamour of Harlem is back.

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