This weekend I went with my digital to the grand opening of the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem. Red Rooster is the latest restaurant from Chef Marcus Samuelsson. It is located in the center of Harlem at 310 Lenox Avenue and there really is nothing in the area quite like it. In addition to winning Top Chef Masters, Marcus Samuelsson was the guest chef at the first State Dinner of the Obama administration. The restaurant is meant to be a neighborhood spot and it is an asset to the area.
It is spacious with a large bar in the front and a dining room with an open kitchen in the back. There is a communal table right near the kitchen and it's a fun place to sit because you can see the chef in action. The menu at Red Rooster features home-style American cuisine. It's one of those menus where it was hard to decide what to order because it all sounded so good. While you are looking at the menu you should order the cornbread with tomato jam as a snack. Marcus Samuelsson was raised in Sweden and offers Swedish meatballs as an appetizer based on his grandmother's recipe. Helga's meatballs are served with mashed potatoes and a lingonberry sauce.
The entrees range from fried yard bird to steak frites. They also have a vegetarian macaroni and cheese mixed with collard greens. My dining companion had the fried chicken and said it was extremely tender and one of the best versions around. It's served with white mace gravy and a shaker filled with a spicy seasoning. I love sweet potatoes so I couldn't resist ordering the sweet potato gratin. Usually, gratins are heavy and loaded with milk and cream. The Red Rooster version is made with orange juice so it's much lighter and has a clean citrus flavor.
All of the portion sizes were generous and the prices were reasonable.
Of course, for dessert I ordered the sweet potato doughnuts. Other dessert items included roasted apple pie, black bottom peanut pie, coffee cup bread pudding, whiskey fudge and red velvet cup cakes. The doughnuts are served in paper cone with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sugar. They are definitely worth going off the diet. Hopefully, more restaurateurs will open up in Harlem. It was a nice change to head uptown to a different area than downtown. Considering it was opening night the service at Red Rooster was lovely and very accommodating. The vibe of the restaurant was relaxed and it almost didn't feel like New York. So many new and hip restaurants can sometimes feel jittery and rushed. The Red Rooster was nothing like that and I already want to go back.