Hungry In Harlem? Head To Red RoosterNovember 15, 2018
NEW YORK – It was only 5:50 p.m. in the heart of Harlem, but there wasn’t an open seat in the coop at Red Rooster.
Our feet were aching from a day of walking and sight-seeing, and our hearts (and stomachs) were set on hearty, soul cuisine at Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant.
While Red Rooster embraces the comfort foods of American cuisine, the Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef likes to bring in touches of his roots into his fare. Even the walls had some touches of Samuelsson’s upbringing – the wallpaper featured handwritten words and typed recipes, including one for Swedish Kringle.
We ordered drinks at the bar as we waited for our table, and while we stuck with our standby glass of wine, the bartenders were mixing Old Fashioneds in Mason jars and slinging cocktails garnished with lemon dipped in the Ethiopian spice, berbere. A drum set was nestled into the corner, and the room was buzzing with conversation. If you’re looking for a bar with ambiance, look no further.
Once the table was ready, our hostess led us to the back of the restaurant, where we had a great view of the open kitchen. We placed a round of drinks with our server, and the chef came out to greet us with a smile.
What followed was a series of starters and sides that still are making our mouths water.
We’re actually not sure how we managed to fit everything on the table, but we each noshed on The Langston’s Crab Cake, Wild Wild Wings, Fried Shrimp Cocktail, Deviled Eggs and Marcus’ signature cornbread. The shrimp were scrumptious – meaty and fresh, and not overly battered or greasy. The cornbread was moist and delicious. And the crab cakes? Well, let’s just say someone at the table said, “These are the best crab cakes I’ve ever eaten,” and she’s got access to crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.
While we didn’t think there possibly could be any room left in our stomachs (the chef warned us his diners leave 10 pounds heavier), we ordered the Asian Belle Salmon, the Jukebox Fish Fry and the Hot Honey Yardbird. You honestly can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Yardbird had the southern girls at the table giving two thumbs up, y’all.
At this point, we honestly couldn’t stuff any more into our bellies, so we threw the towel in and called it a night (even though, we did start to eye the Gimme S’more sundae).
Red Rooster has a relaxed cozy vibe, and we left wanting to be friends with everyone we interacted with. The food was amazing, but on our ride back to Midtown Manhattan, we realized our one mistake: We neglected to try the meatballs! Until next time…