I was sitting down over a bottle of Chardonnay with Fabrice Warin, owner of Barawine on 120th and Lenox Ave, and was very much impressed with his love and extensive knowledge of Harlem. Fabrice moved to Harlem in 2001 and told me: “I lived on the Upper East Side, Midtown, but there is nothing like Harlem.” When I asked him why did he decided to open a restaurant in Harlem, he answered: “I wanted to work in the neighborhood where I lived, and I wanted my fellow Harlemites to have a nice place to eat without going downtown.”
Barawine was opened on August 1st 2013. In fact Barawine is quite a nice place. The décor is simple yet sophisticated, actually the bar is a long communal dinner table, where diners eat and drink on both sides of the bar. Barawine is a local restaurant that specializes in wine, hence its name. In the back are dinner tables and a small stage for live music. The selves on the wall are filled with many different wines much like bookcases filled with books, which is no surprise as Fabrice is trained in fine wines.
I asked Fabrice what inspired the décor design, he told me: “Harlem brownstone homes” and I must say after taking the place all in, I get the idea. Elegant and simple all at once! Fabrice is very proud of the design he and his team conceived for Barawine.
“Everyone is welcome here” Fabrice said, and the restaurant and staff are very welcoming and friendly indeed. Fabirce considers the Harlem residents that have lived here for a long time his VIP’s, which comes from his love of the community and history of Harlem. All of the staff at Barawine lives in the neighborhood, and Fabrice is very close to his employees, making sure that all his staff are happy and enjoy working there, as Fabrice worked in restaurants for many years his feels that it is important to keep his staff in good spirits.
(Booba, Fabrice, Faiza, Filip)
I was served for an appetizer the Spicy Corn and Poblano cheese soup (summer corn soup) which has a very nice and creamy delicious taste (it was so good I highly recommend it!).
My entrée was the Braised Lamb Shank which was set in a lovely Polenta Red Wine sauce. The meat was so moist that it slid off the bone and literally melted in my mouth. The lamb was paired with Mash potatoes. The whole meal was so wonderful. I was at a loss for words when the waitress asked how my meal was, wondering why I haven’t eaten here before. With my meal I sipped a 2013 Cardiff Chardonnay, instead of the Melbac which looked rather interesting (I will most surely try it next time) which had a tropical citrus flavor with a refreshing vanilla after finish.
(Lofinda my waitress)
Executive chef: Carlos A. Jimenez and Fabrice know exactly what they are doing with the food as well as the wine. Barawine has an extensive wine list with wines priced from $30-$110 a bottle, suitable for all discerning palettes and budgets, all handpicked by Fabrice, so you can be sure that if you order by the glass or bottle you will be getting a good wine at a great value.
As I dined, I noticed many couples having romantic dinners while listening to Jazz and classic slow jams being played by the Jazz Duo of Jerome Harris (guitar) and Dave Barron (Bass). Definitely a great place to take a date for dinner or drinks. Fabrice told me that he eats at his own restaurant every night, and changes the food and wine menu twice a year, and just added six new dishes. To quote Fabrice: “The Food Just has to be Good”, and you can be sure of that when you eat at Barawine!
There is live jazz music every Tues and Sunday. Sunday brunch is very popular at Barawine and is always packed. You can enjoy for $15.00 “Bottomless Mimosa’s” (for 2 hours) with your brunch Sat & Sun 11:30 Am-4PM. On Fridays there is a DJ and Saturday there are many parties. Mondays you can check out the “Mussel Mondays” with all you can eat mussels and fries for $20 per person at 4PM and on Sundays at 4:30 PM. Happy Hour is 4PM-8PM Mon-Fri.
I was very impressed with Fabrice and his philosophy on operating a successful restaurant (“never let it get boring”), his knowledge and love of Harlem, and his pride of recently becoming an American Citizen. Most of all I was impressed by the genuine charm and goodwill of this exceptional gentleman! Fabrice told me that he does not want Barawine to be known as a expensive restaurant, however while the place does look expensive, the price point for the food,wine and specials makes it affordable for everyone. A true French Harlemite!