Restaurant Recommendations

Accidental Locavore Fish and Chips

Haven’t you always wondered about the wisdom of people asking total strangers for restaurant recommendations? And haven’t you done it yourself? The Accidental Locavore was hungry with an hour to kill on 125th Street lately and was trying to figure out which of the many fast-food chain restaurants was going to be the least disgusting. I must have looked a little lost because suddenly I found myself being welcomed to Harlem by a friendly man on the corner. I figured he and his friend, if they were truly going to be the welcoming committee, might have an idea about a local joint, so I asked.

Mind you, I have no clue as to what his taste in food included, but I was about to find out. They very kindly pointed out all the fast food and chain restaurants I was looking to avoid. I took it all in and figured any one of them would be OK, but not what I was hoping for. “What about that fish place across the street?”

“Oh, that’s really good!” “It used to be right here until about a year ago, then they moved.” “Go, have your lunch there and tell them Lamar sent you.” Handshakes and introductions all around and I went over to the seafood place.

Accidental Locavore 125th StWhile the fish and chips I had were good, well fried in a crispy cornmeal coating (and an enormous serving for $10, with a surprisingly sweet iced tea-note to self: in Harlem, iced tea is probably always sweet tea) what struck me as I was eating was the pervasiveness of all the fast-food chains and the depressing idea that in the middle of Manhattan, Applebee’s or Little Caesar’s were considered to be the pinnacle of “fine dining” on 125th Street (Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster was not mentioned, too expensive or too far away, or just out of their scope?). And maybe to Lamar and his friend, they were, or maybe they were being kind, and not knowing me, tried to steer me to a place they thought I would like.

Where have you asked complete strangers for restaurant recommendations? And how did they do?


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