December 18, 2010
REVIEW: Red Rooster – Harlem, NYC
The anticipated grand opening of Marcus Samuelsson‘s new Harlem eatery, Red Rooster, is officially open and has delivered in more ways than one. After close to being three months of a delayed opening, Red Rooster which is located on 310 Lenox Ave in Harlem, NYC, lived to surpass my expectations.
Before leaving my pad I went online to see if anyone else on the foodie web was going to dine at the restaurant tonight as well. Then it came to my attention on Eater.com that Red Rooster and chef Samuelsson were getting bashed on by guests leaving comments on the opening night. Someone even said “He won’t be in the restaurant unless there’s a photo shoot. THis place will bomb, just like almost everything else he says he’s going o do. What a hack, what a poseur.” Haha, well guess what Guest #9? Marcus Samuelsson was in the hizouse, and cooking, and visiting tables, and even had time to take a picture with yours truly. =)
So, get this…I arrive to the restaurant around 5:30pm and the bar is practically full. As soon as me and my friend walk in we were greeted by none other than Marcus himself. I must say that the hostesses were very kind and helpful. Our coats were checked in then we grabbed a couple of seats at the bar, ordered a couple of drinks, and just absorbed the ambiance and decor. I have to give it to them on the design! The entire restaurant has is filled with style and vibrant colors. The bar is the shape of an “8” and copper topped. The display shelf behind it is filled with levels of classic antique statues, liquor bottles, plants, jars, and copper wares. My eye even caught an… old-school film camera sitting on one of the top shelves (neat!). The beverage list is short and sweet. We indulged ourselves with orders of their fig & pear infused bourbon concoctions.
A few minutes passed by and then we were kindly guided to our seats in the dining room. Right away I was are struck with the cool black & white wallpaper design they have on the wall facing the open kitchen. The ceiling lights, along with decorative items around the walls and by the pantry door way area, were of a shiny copper finish. The window size of the open kitchen is great. You can see all the cooks preparing your meal and even a cool open flame grill sat in the middle of the kitchen that gave the dining room audience more added eye candy. Our server was super kind and pleasant and set the mood nicely (Rocking pastel orange & blue bistro aprons btw!). We ordered snacks, apps, salad, sides, entrees, dessert, oh my!
The Beef Patty with Salsa Verde was tasty. You get two pieces of mini puff pastry and ground meat inside which was nicely seasoned. The Salsa Verde gave it a nice acidic kick to it and complimented it well. The Yellow Corn Fish Tacos that came with Yellowtail Tuna marinated with lime (ceviche style) and avocado had a refreshing taste and crisp crunch to it, but could have used a better presentation. The Gravlax with Purple Mustard was awesome! Cured correctly, presented nicely, and the purple mustard was -ugh!- wonderFUL. The Red Caesar salad with grated Bottarga and smoked vinaigrette was executed great. It was not overly dressed like most Caesar are; this one had an awesome flavor profile. The Fried Yard Bird that came with white mace gravy, hot sauce, and collard greens was delicioso! My friend actually couldn’t do the knife and fork thing anymore, so he just grabbed his piece of the bird with his bare hands and started tearing it up! (That’s how a true bird is eaten!) My 10 oz Prime NY Strip steak cooked to medium was, well, cooked perfectly. The truffled frites were over salted. The mouth-sized pieces of pickled seasonal vegetables were out of this world. And I’m not exaggerating. When you come here and get to the desserts, please try the Black & White Mud with Wafer Crust…you’ll thank me later.
310 Lenox Avenue New York, NY 10027
(between 125th & 126th)
Cuisine: Comfort American
Price Range: $$
Chu’s Rating: ★★★★☆
I might be sounding like I just ate a three Michelin star place, but the bare truth is … that I didn’t have to. Nonetheless, tonight was an awesome experience. Reason being? Maybe it’s the fact that I sat next to great people who love food and got to talk to them or maybe it was our server who was pleasant throughout our dinner. Maybe it was the kitchen staff doing a great job and our food arriving on time or just maybe it was shaking hands with one of the owners and exchanging a few words with him. Regardless of all the hype, rumors of chef Samuelsson not showing up, delayed openings, etc, etc…my expectations of this new Harlem eatery was well surpassed. Harlem needs more places like Red Rooster, or maybe Red Rooster needs more places like Harlem. Either way, you can’t go wrong if you want to celebrate the roots of American cuisine.
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