Marcus Samuelsson, an Aquavit Alumn, takes his culinary expertise up to Harlem with his new soul food restaurant Red Rooster. The restaurant seeks to cook up upscale soul food to the local neighborhood as well as those who well, aren’t so local. The crowd ranges from people who live in the Harlem area to those living in the Upper East Side looking to sample the cuisine prepared by chef Samuelsson. A block away from another well known soul food restaurant, Sylvia’s, Red Rooster’s carefully selected art, dark wood bar and clean yet elegant dining room suggests that this isn’t your typical soul food restaurant.
The menu contains traditional soul food dishes such as the Fried Yard Bird (fried chicken) and Catfish & Grits (pretty self explanatory) but also puts a twist on certain dishes. Swedish Meatballs are offered and there is also a Fried Cesar Salad in case you’re feeling particularly unhealthy. To start I ordered the Cornbread and then as an entree, the Fried Yard Bird. The Cornbread was moist, buttery and generously portioned. For $6, this appetizer can easily be shared amongst three people. The Fried Yard Bird was a more modernly prepared fried chicken. The seasoning was more sweet than traditional fried chicken and the gravy that accompanied the dish was a great addition. The dish also comes with all dark meat chicken which is great since white meat can sometimes be too dry.
Red Rooster is the perfect place to go if you need a soul food fix. While the location may be considered “out of the way” by 90% of its clientele, the food is skillfully prepared and isn’t too expensive considering Red Rooster is an upscale restaurant. Also, be sure to check out the downstairs Jazz Bar, Ginny’s, in case you’re in the mood for some great music after dinner.