New Harlem Besame Latino Soul Lounge esta muy caliente folks. In English it means that the restaurant is very hot. The restaurant is located at 2070 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard on the Southwest corner of 124th Street.
The father & son owners, Bernard and Osei Rubie have created a place that pays homage to their roots and their travels. They started life in their native Costa Rica and come from a long line of entrepreneurs. The family moved to Liberia where Bernard started multiple businesses including a restaurant. From there they moved to the U.S. in the 1980s, and New Harlem Besame is their first restaurant business in Harlem.
Bernard and Osei Rubie have created a space that blends Latino, African and American masculinity in a very unique and inviting way. The beautiful large round black and white photo of Clara Francis Rubie, Bernard’s mother, pays homage to their Costa Rican roots. She was a self-taught cook and with her husband they owned Dennie’s Restaurant in San Jose, Costa Rica. They taught their son and grandson the restaurant business and the picture serves as a symbol that they will never forget from where they came from. The hand carved wooden bar also depicts their Latino roots.
African wood paneling adorns several walls in the space that depicts various scenes of life in the motherland, namely Liberia. They pay homage to Harlem soul with a picture of famed boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, who used to own a restaurant “Sugar Ray’s” on the same block.
The food and the drinks were superb. We chose the Chips with Guacamole and the New Harlem Jerk Wings as our appetizers. The guacamole was just right: not too chunky and not too smooth and were surrounded by multi colored chips. The jerk wings were spicy and the meat was very moist, almost to the point of falling off the bone. For entrees we had Oxtails served with rice and peas seasoned to perfection in their authentic Jamaican sauce and Shrimp in Garlic Sauce served with yellow rice and black beans. I love the restaurant’s signature plating technique for rice dishes; its packed into an ice cream cone shape and then turned upside on the plate. The oxtail meat fell off the bone when you touched it with the fork. The shrimp were cooked just right; plump and moist and they resided in a very flavorful garlic sauce. Every dish was seasoned to perfection and I fell in love with the garlic sauce.
For beverages we had the Myers Zombie and a Besame Peach Mojito. Both drinks went down really smooth and packed a nice kick to them. Happy hour is from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesdays through Saturdays. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Brunch is served on Sundays from 12 Noon until 4pm along with gospel and blues music. For reservations call 917 533-4971 or go to their web site www.harlembesame.com. The servers are friendly and knowledgeable about the food and beverage menus.
So my tasting team member and I returned to the restaurant one Sunday for brunch. Instead of ordering brunch items we ordered the other entrees that interested us on the first visit; the Lamb Shank and the New Harlem Guava BBQ Ribs. Well-seasoned and finger licking good. With no appetizers we had room for dessert this time. Tres Leches Cake and Special Rum Raising Pound Cake; both were great. The drinks were great too; I slurped my Harlem Breeze down at record speed. They’re helping to put Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd on Harlem’s restaurant map.