Friday, May 22, 2015


The House of Refuge used to be the main institution on Randall's Island back in the 19th Century with set of domed buildings dominating the East Harlem river view at 103rd Street.  Apparently juveniles were placed here by the city to make hoop skirts or shoes as punishment for being delinquent and put to  good use as cheap labor.  Today the buildings are gone and the land is used as public park space but we kind of wish that they would have been saved back in the 1930s since they were pretty striking: LINK


The owners of the River Crossing apartment complex in East Harlem announced that they are supporting a new bike rental pilot program on Randall’s Island for visitors to enjoy on weekends throughout the spring and summer. Visitors will be able to walk over the 103rd Street pedestrian bridge and pick up a bike on Randall's Island to spend a day exploring its scenic pathways and gardens, viewing interactive waterfront art, visiting the urban farm, or attending one of the many summer weekend events on the island. The bike rental will be operated by Blazing Saddles New York, and a range of rental bikes will be available for children and adults starting May 23, Memorial Day weekend. 

River Crossing, owned by Brookfield Property Group and Urban American, is located at 1956 First Avenue, just down the block from the 103rd Street Walking Bridge. In addition to supporting the bike rental, they will offer discounted parking at River Crossing’s parking garage, which will be especially convenient for parents whose children play sports on the island’s superior playing fields and at Icahn Stadium.


There has been a lot of construction at the empty storefront next door to Rai Rai Ken ramen on Amsterdam just south of 133rd Street and permits confirmed that a new Japanese spot will be arriving soon to this section of Harlem.  We have heard that a Japanase curry-ya (shop) will open in the aforementioned commercial space and noticed that a Japanese name was listed on the permit as the owner of the yet to open business.  A quick conversation next door while ordering ramen this past week also revealed that this indeed will be one of uptown's notable debuts by early summer.

Those who are familiar with the Japanese restaurant block in the East Village that has 11 or so spots such as Soba-Ya, Cha-An,  Robataya, Hasaki and Otafuku might be interested to know that the owner of all of these restaurants who basically founded the Nippon trend downtown is also now focusing on Harlem.  There was a great article in the Times a few years ago which reveals the origins of the businessman who started out as a dishwasher and has now become the ambassador of approachable Japanese cuisine in Manhattan: LINK


Keep it all uptown and help out Harlem's great local businesses over the weekend. Below is the Bespoke short list of what is new and notable in the neighborhood to try out this week.  

Eating great italian offerings at newly open Serafina Harlem: LINK

Enjoying outdoor dining at uptowns hottest restaurants: LINK

Organic wine tasting at Pompette Wine Shop on 131st Street: LINK

Beer and grub at newly open The Drafthouse in Hamilton Heights: LINK

Yuzu sushi for lunch or dinner service on Lenox by 127th Street: LINK

Guacamole and drinks at Lulu's at 123rd and Manhattan Avenue: LINK

Getting one of the limited reservations at Mountain Bird : LINK

Lunch or dinner at Marcus Samuelsson's new Streetbird Rotisserie: LINK

Harlem's best Bloody Mary with brunch service at Hogshead Tavern: LINK

Checking out vintage hip hop photos at the new MCNY exhibit in East Harlem:  LINK

Viewing the new Trenton Doyle Hancock Retrospective at Studio Museum: LINK

Home decor shopping at the Harlem Heirloom boutique: LINK


If any of the readers out there have a question they would like to throw out to the Bespoke audience on neighborhood organizations, restoration services, property search or history, just send them over and we can possibly have it written up as a future post: