Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food, travel, and hospitality consulting services website!  I'm glad you're here.



Search this site
My delicious calendar
  • 10/18-10/20: Austin
Contributions & affiliations

Tabelog Reviewer TheLunchBelle



« Brunch at Highpoint Bistro & Bar | Main | Dinner at Laut »

My Saturday in Harlem: brunch at Chez Lucienne ~ field trip to the "Crack is Wack Playground"

*This restaurant has since closed.*

  • Cuisine: French
  • Atmosphere: spacious, bright, warm, bistro
  • Attire: smart-casual
  • Ideal for: date night, small groups, prixe-fixe menus available, kid-friendly, brunch
  • Price: moderate; all a-la-carte items under $25
  • Phone: 212-289-5555
  • Location: 308 Lenox Avenue (between 125th & 126th Streets)
  • Website: click *here*
  • Directionswww.hopstop.com/?city=newyork
  • *All photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr

    Ever since learning - very recently, I might add - that Harlem's "Crack is Wack Playground" came long before Whitney Houston's famous proclamation, I've been aching to view this historical piece of urban landscape for myself.  But if I knew that if I was going to make that trek, I wanted to be damn sure that a meal would also be involved.  Et voila!  Chez Lucienne, a French bistro that had been on my "need to try it" list, was located two blocks south and six avenues east of the famous "playground."

    Before Shirley and I met at the restaurant - conveniently located 15-feet from the subway exit - I managed to get lost.  Instead of making a right on Lenox, I headed west on 125th Street.  Not wanting to appear a shade greener than I imagine I already looked, I finally had no other option but to ask a passerby, "Is Lenox Avenue this way?"  After the kind gentleman led me in the right direction, I couldn't help but notice how friendly and hospitable everyone seemed to be.  For the first time in my six-years of living in the Big Apple, I felt a genuine sense of warmth and community.

    Amongst Lenox Avenue's fast-food joints and small department stores/chains, Chez Lucienne stands out like a rare jewel.  Upon entry, there is an ample amount of space used for street-side dining which, had it not been 100-degrees, I would have loved to have brunched al-fresco.  The interior of the restaurant is reminiscent of Tribeca's The Odeon: banquette and bistro-chair/table seating, unfinished hardwood floors, subway-tiled walls, and ceilings that seem to reach to soaring heights.

    Chez Lucienne: interior spaceTo begin our meal, Shirley and I ordered a cheese platter, which arrived simultaneously with the gratis bread & butter.  Served atop a chilled, unpolished black-granite slab was a handful of unsalted walnuts, some lightly-dressed greens, and wedges of the following fromages: camembert, brie, chevre, and (gasp!) commercially/deli-sliced cheddar.

    Chez Lucienne: moist country bread and butterChez Lucienne: cheese platterJust as the server removed our spit-cleaned cheese board, our entrees arrived.  I ordered the "Oeufs Benedicte Chez Lucienne," which loosely translates to "Eggs Benedict."  Instead of serving the poached eggs atop a toasted English muffin, this version went against tradition with the substitution of bread for a homemade, 1" thick hash-brown cake.  Slices of fried deli ham, sauteed button mushrooms, and half of a grilled tomato served as a makeshift moat to the potato and egg "castle."  A warm, lemon-y Hollandaise sauce crowned the perfectly-poached eggs, though I found that the dish could have used one or two more dollops.

    Chez Lucienne: Oeufs Benedicte Chez Lucienne (Eggs Benedict)Conclusion: while I wouldn't consider Chez Lucienne to be a brunch destination-restaurant, Shirley and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal, especially the lovely service we received.  From the jazzy French tunes heard overhead to our Lyonnaise server's deliriously intoxicating accent, I felt transported back to my beloved Paris. 


    Harlem: live from 128th Street

    Leaking fire hydrant on 128th Street: seconds after I snapped this photo, some random dude approached the hydrant and took a huge swig of water.Rows of steps leading up to brownstones on 128th St.~

    And without further ado, please enjoy my photographs from Harlem's "Crack is Wack Playground."  Before or after you finish (viewing the pictures), make sure to read the touching true-story behind the art.  Click *here*

    I love the sign to the right, "Park closes at 9pm."Mural painted on a handball court: note all of the skeletons and dead bodies. What else do you see?Similar mural painted on opposite side of handball court. Note the highway to the right of the mural.

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>