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We love the national holidays, because they are the ideal time to drive into Manhattan and try a new restaurant. There's usually less traffic and you can park almost anywhere, plus you don't have to feed the meters.
But on Memorial Day, our attempt to find someplace to eat in Harlem was undone by outdated information in a two-year-old brochure produced by Experience: Harlem.
Our first destination was the Famous Fish Market on Saint Nicholas Avenue, near 145th Street, where, the brochure said, fish dinners were cheap -- as low as $5 a basket. This turned out to be only take-out and was literally a hole in the wall on the ground floor of an apartment building.
The rest is a blur. Floridita, a Cuban place, was closed -- or was that China De Puebla? Dinosaur BBQ, near Fairway Market, did serve fish and shrimp (we haven't eaten meat for three months), but the wait for a table was 45 minutes.
So we did some shopping at Fairway -- salted cod, custom-ground coffee and a sesame-seeded baguette, which we tore into. We also tried samples of baked tilapia and ox tail to stave off our hunger pains. We had the fish, our son the ox tail.
Then, we jumped back in the car and drove home to Hackensack for dinner at Lotus Cafe: seafood soup, shrimp in chili sauce, fresh spinach with garlic and rice. Familiar, filling and delicious.