It's difficult going to college in a subpar city with nothing to do, and nobody feels it more than Spectrum staff blogger, Sam Muller, CC '18. In a new series, thrill-seeking Mr Muller scours New York City in search of like at least one cool place to hang out.
This week Mr Muller dined at Amy Ruth's in Harlem… and reported back in the third-person. We don't know why.
Amy Ruth's offers southern soul food to the merry denizens of Harlem, and boasts a snaking line out its door on 116th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and Malcolm X Blvd. It's around noon, and four friends are excited for a scrumptious lunch — they have heard good things, since it's, like, kind of famous. Upon their arrival, one friend, Nicole, approaches the hostess and asks about the wait time. "Fifteen minutes," she said. Okay, hostess.
Nicole heralds the news to her friends with a menu in tow. They rejoice! Fifteen minutes is no time at all. Their hungry stomachs can manage that. They proceed to examine the menu, characterized by the prominent African-American named dishes, such as the President Barack Obama, the Ludacris, and the Gabrielle Union. The friends enjoy looking through the menu and have trouble deciding what to get. They ponder this for a while. A long while. Like, a more than 15 minutes while. The line hasn't moved.
After about half an hour of standing in line outside, Andrew goes next. Before he can even finish the question, the hostess retorts with, none other than, "Fifteen minutes!" Andrew, curious about how long others have been waiting, asks the party of four at the front of the line how long they have been waiting. "An hour," was their curt reply. And an hour the friends also waited until their party name was called and they were escorted inside.
Once they were seated at their table, they looked around and noticed many other empty tables. This begged the question, "Why TF couldn't you have seated us at one of the 50 empty tables sooner?!?!" Whatever.
They sat down and admired the muraled walls. Walls exhibiting African-American icons, such as the Reverend Al Sharpton and The Temptations. The most interesting of these murals was the depiction of, what they decided could be, either a) Beyoncé, or b) RuPaul. The mural, like life, ultimately left them guessing and uncertain.
All members of the dining party soon came to the general consensus that they were all starving. They ordered two plates of chicken and waffles for the table to share and then each ordered an additional entree (they proceed to hate themselves afterwards).
After sitting for an amount of time that can only be described as "really long," they wondered where their food was. The one piece of cornbread and glass of water they all received satisfied neither their hungry stomachs nor their longing hearts. Nicole asks the waiter for another round of cornbread. "Another?!" he exclaims confusedly as the four friends gaze hungrily on. "Yes." she replies. The cornbread does not come.
A glimmer of hope: a waitress enters the dining area with a tray of food that, without doubt, belonged to the four friends. She walks towards them in slow, exaggerated motion — like in a romantic movie scene — only to serve the food to neighboring table.
Tears are shed. The neighboring table that received this culinary blessing were ungrateful. One man even went so far as to take his macaroni and cheese (he actually wanted rice and beans) and give it back to the server who then — I kid you not — proceeded to THROW IT AWAY. More tears (three out of four of the friends did, in fact, order macaroni and cheese).
Finally, the food arrives. They rejoice. That is, until they actually taste the food which can only be described as "very" and "underwhelming".
The chicken was, at best, marginally better than that at JJ's Place: dry, the skin overly-salted, the meat practically inseparable from the bones. It was only made worse by the memory of the God-sent wings of goodness found in the aforementioned dining hall.
The mashed potatoes seemed to glow, giving them an angelic quality. Unfortunately, this was only due to the thick layer of melted butter that waited to stop my already broken heart.
Meatloaf? Subpar. Fried okra? Actually not that bad — seemingly the only exception. The overall feasting experience was only redeemed by the cute picture they were able to take and the food's significant Snapchat story value. The friends' exuberant smiles in their photos were a stark contrast to their hellish reality.
In the end, none felt satisfied. They left feeling — rather ironically — more empty than they had upon arrival. The meal cost almost $100. One. Hundred. Dollars. Empty.
This is only the tale of four, but we encourage you to take the journey yourselves. Tell us about your experience. Happy feasting.