Lenox Saphire: A Gem (in the rough) on Lenox Ave.

Lenox Saphire a Senegalese/Moroccan Restaurant on the corner of 127th street and Lenox Ave is a very interesting place to have dinner, hang out, or pastries and coffee, just walk from the dining room right into the patisserie, which has a sunnier look and mood to it, which is in sharp contrast to the dimly lit restaurant which commands a more serious tone; however it does have a bit of charm with vintage pictures and African art hanging on the walls. On the center of the ceiling is a curious huge horn sculpture, the most remarkable piece in the room.

The very pretty manager Fatou who seemed shy, but very polite, said that they have a small but loyal following of regular customers in which they regard as good friends. As for the clientele that they cater to, she described it as “Everybody”. The owner and chef, Fara Fall, and his Moroccan wife love to cook and wanted to bring the combined traditional tastes of West African and Moroccan dishes of their homelands to Harlem.

The place is quite comfortable to dine in, and the space is relatively pleasant. But there seems to be something out of place. The food is good (I enjoyed the catfish), but the service leaves something to be desired (The Gem in the rough part, I would say). They have this laissez-faire attitude regarding service, such as bringing water, refilling such water, taking your order in a timely fashion, and just don’t seem very interested in your dining experience until it’s time to pay the check, when it comes (I waited quite a bit for mine), the whole experience conveys mixed signals which I can only describe as bittersweet. It has come to my attention that many have complained about the service, little about the food, and none about the space. It is my belief that if they sort out the service end, and train the staff to be more friendly and engaging, they will be packed to full capacity every night.

The patisserie which is connected to the restaurant is very inviting, and a pleasant area to have brunch. Scrumptious pastries and tarts fill the glass showcase, which seem to emit their own light! The smell of freshly baked bread daily fills the air with delight (Gem part indeed).

The bartender Nick seemed like a nice fellow for sure, but then there’s that laissez-faire kind of service which you just can’t seem to escape (Gem in the rough part), but he is a charming follow indeed, and knows how to make his drinks. He mixes specialty drinks like the “Le Fara” (Grey Goose, Mint, cucumber and simple syrup)

Lenox Saphire is open for Breakfast, Brunch, and Dinner, and the French bakery makes fresh bread and croissants daily. They host seasonal holiday parties and a live Jazz band (The owner is a Jazz lover) on Tues and Thursday nights (also Sunday Brunch in the summer). They have happy hour everyday including Sunday from 4-7 and a DJ on Friday nights! All good things (Jewel part again). The outside seating is a great place to eat and people watch, especially during the summer. So I will go back to try the “Sizzing garlic shrimp” and the Moroccan Djin” and I was told that the Thiebou Djin (fish stew over exotic rice) is worth it.
My review on Lenox Saphire is of a mixed nature, three stars for the food, two stars for the ambiance, one star for the service. Overall I give it Two and a half stars, but tasty food is tasty food!

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