After months of waiting with bated breath, Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster has finally opened just a stone’s throw away from Harlem classics like Sylvia’s and Amy Ruth’s.
Like a Las Vegas casino constructed on a quiet suburban street, the Broadway lighting on Red Rooster’s façade stands out on the otherwise dull strip, providing a stark contrast to the Starbucks, Staples and Planet Fitness nearby.
Once inside, sounds of Bob Marley and Fela Kuti, rustic furniture, colorful artwork and the energy of the attractive yet down-to-earth crowd guarding the bar all say, “welcome home.”
Red Rooster’s ode to classic American comfort foods is a vast deviation from Chef Samuelsson’s signature Scandinavian and Ethiopian cuisine. It’s no surprise, then, that traces of his roots can be found throughout the menu (case-in-point: Helga’s Meatballs served with Mash and Lingonberry). For dinner, the Fried Yard Bird and Hearth Baked Mac & Greens are solid bets, although a bit underwhelming in spice level.
With all due respect to Chef Samuelsson and Executive Chef Andrea Bergquist, the real breakout star of the entire Red Rooster experience is “The Apollo” – a signature cocktail made with Tanqueray Gin, egg white, sage and a hearty dose of fresh ginger. A new take on the classic Peruvian Pisco Sour, The Apollo has a light finish with just the right balance of tart and sweet – the perfect complement to any item on the dinner menu.
The Cheese Pear and Glogg (mulled red wine) dessert – although seemingly out-of-place alongside sweet potato doughnuts, whiskey fudge and condensed milk flan – is the epitome of a food-fanatic’s comfort-dessert. The soft and tangy Glogg-poached pears contrast beautifully against the sharpness of the crumbled blue cheese. The smooth texture of the red wine ice cream brings it all home and the shot of Glogg served with the dish is like the period at the end of one unforgettable sentence. The dessert, in a nutshell, is a fairytale on the tongue.
Now that we’ve crossed dinner off our checklist, we’re looking forward to trying Red Rooster’s Sunday Gospel Brunch. We have a hunch that the Saturday brunch is going to become the down-home version of the high-end “dance party” Saturday brunch Chef Samuelsson once served up at Merkato 55. Only time will tell, so stay tuned!
Red Rooster Harlem
310 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027
Between 125th And 126th Streets
Phone: (212) 792-9001
*Reservations highly recommended