Over the last few years Chef Marcus Samuelsson has become one of the most sought-after food personalities. A media darling, he’s had his fair share of sincere praise be it from the Obamas, newspapers, or the Internet. While naysayers may scoff and consider the space an expression of restaurant imperialism, Red Rooster is an important addition to Harlem; reviving, as opposed to gentrifying, a vibrant neighborhood deficient of the food burgeon that is synonymous with New York City.
The space is expansive and bright with a substantial bar. But it is also colorful, retaining elements easily attributed to a Harlem aesthetic. Notable is the art, a gallery of frames assumed to be of Samuelsson’s family, decorates the bathroom’s walls and a bird wearing red canvas sneakers will undoubtedly bring forth a smile to wondering eyes assessing the space.
The food, of course, contributes wholeheartedly to the experience. The Bloody Mary here is smokey and spicy. The cornbread lives to the hype. With actual pieces of corn, it comes warmed with butter and a fragrant tomato spread. The mac and cheese is fine, easily recreated and even perfected at other places. However, the fried chicken is uniquely brittle, moist, and delicious. The catfish which comes with creamy shrimp grits and collard greens is outstanding. Order the parmesan fries to share, or just for yourself. They are more salty than cheesy, a subtle, but delightful update on the fried potato. Best of all, if you are lucky, you might get to see Mr. Samuelsson himself wearing a dazzling pair of high tops.
310 Lenox Ave
(between 125th St & 126th St)
New York, NY 10027