Chef Marcus Samuelsson Opens Red Rooster in Harlem
Superstar Chef Marcus Samuelsson–the youngest ever to earn two three-star reviews from the New York Times, for his creations in the kitchen at Aquavit–has long wanted to open a first-class restaurant in his neighborhood up in Harlem. And, once Samuelsson announced last spring that the dream was becoming a reality in the form of Red Rooster restaurant, just off 125th Street, WE long wanted him to actually open the thing, as delay after delay pushed the start date deeper and deeper into the year. The good news: Red Rooster, with its inviting, affordable menu of Chef Marcus Samuesson's takes on "American comfort food classics", was totally worth the wait.
We stopped in at Red Rooster in Harlem on consecutive nights just before the New Year, sat up front at the festive-feeling communal tables reserved for walk-ins, and fell head over heels in love with a crustracean. Make that about a dozen crustraceans, the best shrimp we've had in long time, cooked to absolute perfection, tender and juicy, briny and sweet, literally exploding with flavor. Get the appetizer, Dirty Rice and Shrimp, and enjoy your shellfish with a dusting of curry, a bit of hot sauce and a small pile of chewy basmati. Get the entree, Shrimp and Red Grits, and you'll be popping seven or eight of these beauties into your mouth, mixed in with properly creamy grits and spicy chunks of chorizo. Winner and winner.
Our two barn-based dishes at Harlem's Red Rooster were also quite good. The Chicken and Egg starter nicely combines the contents of that age-old riddle into a satisfying little stew, though we do wish there had been more of the menu-promised seared liver. And the Fried Yard Bird might not win any best-of-breed awards in this suddenly fried-chicken-filled town, but it is a solid plate of food, the seasoned skin crackly, the meat uniformly juicy. FYI: the Red Rooster menu says the bird comes with a "shake", but don't, as we did, except a glass of thick ice cream sweetness; rather, you get a shaker filled with "secret spices" to pour on at will.
Finally, to end things one night we ordered the flan, because we can't not order the flan if someone's gone to the trouble of making our favorite dessert, and, again, Red Rooster in NYC may not make the best example of the dish in town, but even flan-fanatics won't be disappointed. Besides, Chef Marcus Samuelsson create a room that is hopping, the design fun and lively, the experience overall one that left us feeling warm and happy. Located right next to the 125th Street 2/3 station, Red Rooster effectively extends your Upper West Side dining options map.
Red Rooster in Harlem Details
Red Rooster is located on Lenox Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets, just steps away from the 2/3 subway station. Red Rooster is open for lunch or brunch every day from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more information as well as a look at the Red Rooster Harlem menus, see Chef Marc Samuelsson's Red Rooster website.