I recently discovered a new Harlem gem! Clay Restaurant is an outstanding addition to Harlem and all the wonderful food it has to offer. Being from the East Village, I don’t get uptown much, however, when I read the menu for Clay online, I knew I had to check it out. The menu is driven by the seasons and all the ingredients come from the farm. As you walk in it’s small and bright with plenty of window seating and a great bar. Downstairs you will find more of a cellar style atmosphere, that is cozy and romantic; perfect for a date night.
I started off with some cocktails before moving to wine. The Quiet Fire was my first choice, and boy was it delicious! The other one I also enjoyed was the O Pato which is a cocktail made with: duck fat washed rye, thyme infused vermouth, bitter aperitif, and orange and cherry bitters. Having cocktails before an elegant meal is the true NYC style, and happily, I was excited to try the ones here.
The appetizers here definitely pack a lot of flavors. The Chicken Liver with preserved figs and toast is the perfect appetizer to share since it’s hearty and will really get your palate in the mood for some incredible entrees. I also had the chance to try the Pork Belly with apple, fermented cabbage, mustard seed, lardo, and kombu glaze. The pork belly melted in your mouth and honestly one of the best pork belly’s I have ever had (and I have eaten a lot of pork belly over the years)!
After the apps, we moved onto a pasta course and started to pair some wines. The Buccatini with Lobster is sensational. This meal I recommend sharing as a middle course, and you will be transported to pasta heaven! It’s got a little bit of a bite to it due to the Calabria chilis, but when you pair it with a glass of Manoir Du Capucin, Pouilly- Fuissé, you will have yourself a perfect pairing.
After some pasta, Clay will tell you about a few of their daily specials which are extremely enticing. I decided to try the Lamb Special, which was perfectly cooked to a delicious medium-rare and served over traditional steakhouse favorites such as mashed potatoes and spinach. On the menu, the Black Bass also called to me, which is served with shitake, corn, heirloom squash, roasted peppers, brown butter, and socca. I usually enjoy fish, and this one was out of this world, amazing. It was flaky and buttery and I couldn’t put my fork down; I ate every last bite! I absolutely recommend on getting some sides, which if you do, make sure you get the Turmeric and Honey Cauliflower and the Duck Fat Potatoes with Parmesan. Both will easily pair with any menu choice you make and are great if you have to doggy bag some items (from ordering everything as I did) to enjoy the next day.
Now, if you have room for dessert, you will not be disappointed! Here at Clay, they have an excellent selection of desserts including house-made ice creams and sorbets. The seasonal sorbets are delicious and pair nicely with the restaurant’s excellent selection of brandy, cognacs, and grappas. I decided to try the Chinato as well as a Cognac, which both went nicely with the sorbets! If you have trouble deciding, luckily the staff can help you make a decision as they have tried everything, and are great at making recommendations when it comes to food and beverage pairings.
If you’re looking for a new Harlem hot spot to unwind, dine, and enjoy, then you have to head to Clay on Manhattan Avenue! Between the seasonal menu, well-curated wine list, and ambiance, you will absolutely love it!