Monday, July 7, 2008

M&G Diner

*Update: Urbanite followed up and all M&G's saying is "we're on vacation," but who knows, because, as we all know, "One day you're up and another you're down." Hopefully, they'll be back up soon.

Eating in Translation (via Eater) has the sad news about Harlem's M&G Diner from a longtime employee, who writes, "I am sorry to say that now it is officially over the diner has been sold we left for vacation on june 29 2008 we will not be back."

This was another one of those places on my backlist I've been wanting to get to before it was too late. Like many of the places on my list, it's too late.


photo credit: uptown flavor

The reviews of the M&G are glowing: Best soul food without tourists, best cornbread, best jukebox, and it had one of the greatest combinations of vintage signage, too: "old fashion' BUT Good!" (the "i" dotted with a neon star!). Lonely Planet described it as a place "where chefs fry chicken like it's an Olympic event and braise their meats more tenderly than most people cradle a child."

Harlem OneStop called it "the reigning 'counter culture' dining establishment in Harlem where one can still perch on a stool and satisfy their hunger for home-style soul food and the current Harlem news!... the regulars here are as plugged in to Harlem gossip as any local politician or neighborhood church sister."

Newsweek said, "The M&G Diner in Harlem is a modest spot, but in the world of hip-hop, it is a landmark. Puff Daddy shot a CD cover here, and rappers come in for the soul food and oldies jukebox."

So marks yet another tragic death on 125th Street--one, no doubt, among many more soon to come.


photo: eating in translation

11 comments:

Nick said...

While I never went there in the years I spent in Harlem, I always loved to walk by it and bask in the old school Harlem vibe it gives off.

Between this and the loss of Pan Pan a few years ago, the classic soul food joints are quickly moving onto the endangered list.

ken mac said...

Jeremiah, you should do a top ten endangered NYC places list. You know better than anyone...

Anonymous said...

I am sure a "hip" new cupcake shop will take it's place, complete with a glass facade and pink & orange plastic chairs inside. (possibly outside if they get a permit for a sidewalk cafe)

bakerina said...

Oh, man. I loved the M&G. The chicken really was that good, as was the cornbread, as were the sweet potatoes. The jukebox was superb, too. One of my favorite New York food memories is of sitting at the counter at the M&G during a driving rainstorm, listening to Solomon Burke while the rain pelted down outside. I don't think I've ever felt as safe anywhere as I felt during that moment.

I was hoping I'd get one more visit to M&G before I move away at the end of the summer. I never, ever imagined that they'd be gone before I was. I thought that they'd be the one place that would defy the odds and remain, if not forever, as close to forever as possible. Oh, oh, oh.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that Mandy Burden and her ilk will at last have a place to eat? Even social x-rays require their midday crudite.

Annie's Sunnyside Renovation said...

Oh! I am sad about the M&G!, Quick story about the M&G. Years ago I worked with a woman who gave birth at St. Luke's hospital up the hill. This is the story of her M&G experience as she related it to me. Her son had been born with some problems, and apparently it was touch and go at first. She was discharged but stayed there in the hospital with the baby. A few days into this a nurse told her to go get something to eat while they were working on the baby. She stumbled down to M&G, ordered some dinner and proceeded to tell the entire story to the cook. The cook told her to go get someone to bless the baby and that the baby would be fine. She got up and went to pay for the food and realized that she didn't have any money. The lady at the counter told her not to worry about it, but to go tend to the baby. She thanked her and left. She went to the door of the Catholic Church near the hospital (it is Notre Dame, I think) and the priest came with her to see the baby. That was neat - because my friend is Baptist (she's Black and originally from the south). He prayed with her and blessed the baby. The baby took a turn for the better and was discharged shortly thereafter from the hospital. My friend went back to tell the M&G people what had happened and to pay for her food. She saw a different crew of people in there and explained to them what had happened, and described the staff that had waited on her. They were happy to hear the story, but said that they couldn't imagine who it was that had been cooking or serving that day, since no one that worked there matched the description my friend gave them. They wouldn't take her money, so she left after thanking them. When I met her and she told me this story she referred to it as the miracle of M&G.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Annie, thanks for that amazing story about the M&G.

it also features in the movie Precious--she swipes a bucket of chicken from them.

Annie's Sunnyside Renovation said...

Awesome! Glad you liked the M&G miracle story. It was truly a special place. Can't wait to see "Precious" either. Great blog by the way! I have to get my lazy reae in gear and update mine more frequently! Ciao and happy holidays!

Dave Cook said...

Signs of souvenir hunting at the former M&G:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingintranslation/4498880722/

Not only has the colorful "diner" sign been loosened, but the lettered curtain of the awning has been removed, along with most of the awning iself.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks for the tip, dave. i posted it today. i guess i'd hope the souvenir hunters are people who loved the diner, and not someone wanting to sell the carcass.

SrL said...

keep doing the random posts. i am glad to see harlem mentioned, as i thought there as too much focus on EV. there was a mall built i think on w.145th street. does it have a starbucks??