Get your ass to this discreet bar in east Harlem before it’s too crowded to get in (I know, I can’t believe I went to Harlem either, but guess what, it’s only 8 blocks away from my apartment–amazing or scary? You be the judge!) After being hit with a rave review by New York Magazine as the best Cheap Eat of 2011 I could barely believe my upper-east-side eyeballs when I learned that it was a mere 8 blocks away from my apartment! The husband and I decided to make a date night out of it. We found quite a low-key scene and a dive-ish bar filled with probably every doctor from the nearby Mount Sinai on their break. The space is definitely on the tight side but you’ll revel in this ambience-free ambience once you’re guzzling the delicious beer and eating the somewhat surprisingly delicious concoctions! But you should know that it’s definitely more of a bar than a restaurant, if you want to eat you’ll have to snag a seat at the communal table or limited counter space. You’ll also have to order from the bartender and don’t expect much. Although the bartender was sweet as can be, it’s not exactly a “customer is always right” kind of place. It’s more of a “serve-yourself-and-find-yourself-a-place-to-stand type of establishment.” But it’s worth it once you find yourself one square foot to stand on to drink a delicious beer on tap (they change daily) and stuff your face with the best (and fully-worth deviating from my veganism) bar food I’ve had in a long time.
I had a chance to sample the Calabro-mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich. It comes on a Thomas’ english muffin, complete with mozz cheese, miso-mayo, crispy, ruffly potato chips and the most delicious pickles I’ve ever had. Sounds like a disgusting late-night, college snack concocted from anything in the fridge but something about it works! And no, I’m not pregnant! It was just amazing! We also tried the Asian-inspired gnocchi. The texture is freaking amazing, the sauce is to die for. The beer cheese is like a delicious, garlicky, aley wonderland that you spread on butter-soaked toast. Worth every calorie! Did I mention that this place is DIRT CHEAP!!!!!!!!! $6 for a grilled cheese, $6 for beer cheese, $10 for gnocchi! Doesn’t get much better than that, folks!
The delectable dishes are coined by chef Corey Cova who boasts an impressive background both at Morimoto and Momofuku Ssam Bar. Despite the occasional asian-inspired themes to a few dishes, cheese reigns supreme in this tasty joint that the Upper-East side needed desperately! So say Cheese! and hit up Earl’s Beer and Cheese!