Florence’s is a cozy joint that serves spicy, satisfying chow from Ghana and Ivory Coast. An Ivorian braised fish dish, attieke poisson braisse, is a knockout, according to our first report, from Peter Cherches. It’s a whole tilapia topped with onions, tomatoes and peppers, and served with starchy attieke (fermented cassava) and wonderful, incendiary chile sauce.
As with other West African cuisines, expect plenty of soups and stews, and dishes featuring peanut sauces, fermented grains, and fufu (starchy mashes of cassava, plantain, and the like). A thick, long-cooked Ivorian okra stew, gombo, is smoky, slightly spicy, and a tad funky from dried shrimp. Peanut soup with goat can be bland, though the meat is tasty and not at all gamy. Among the appetizers, a Ghanaian street snack called kelewele–cubes of ripe plantain fried with chile, ginger, and other spices–is addictively delicious.
Service is friendly and helpful, and the Ghanaian family that owns the place sets a warm, inviting mood. “It was like being a guest in their home,” Peter marvels. “I want to hang out there again. I want to try everything on the menu. I want to take all my friends.”
Florence’s Restaurant [Harlem]
2099 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (between W. 113th and 114th streets), Manhattan
Florence’s: Fabulous West African in Harlem