Saturday, December 18, 2010

☞ BESPOKE: Red Rooster Harlem Officially Opens

Harlem's most highly anticipated restaurant debut in decades finally happened last night at 310 Lenox Avenue.  Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant let patrons in well before the 5:30 opening and guests ordered draft beers, wine or cocktails at the curvilinear copper bar while waiting to be seated in the formal area in the back.  The past week's intense media coverage seemed to have gotten the word out since folks kept arriving in from the street at a time when most restaurants in the area are pretty empty.  Chef Samuelsson was on hand and made brief appearances to personally greet individuals within the crowd and oversaw the new staff from time to time.  So what was the overall dining experience like?

Ambiance wise, the interior was much warmer at night with just a soft glow of light that one would expect from a prestigious eatery downtown. We also noted that there were some bespoke details by the sharply dressed staff members who wore sartorial vest or jackets in combinations with bright accents colors (which is also a downtown-to-uptown first). The crew on hand, although charming, are pretty much in training for the next couple weeks so those who are on the impatient side should probably wait it out.

Last night's opening was a walk-in only affair so the seating was a little mysterious at times but those who were less formal got to experience the menu a little bit earlier than the rest.  The cafeteria-style tables with the bar stools up front served as a waiting area for folks who had their drinks but one could also order from the menu.  We were there for the food so quickly tested out the key cuisine of the night.

So the big test was the Fried Yard Bird which was the dark meat, double fried recipe that Chef Samelsson talked about at recent events. Served with a side of collard greens, lemon twist and a tin shake canister of special spices, the chicken was indeed quite outstanding when it comes to others uptown.  There's definitely more moistness to the meat in comparison to other eateries and the seasoning is on point. It's actually not too overly crisp and taste more like a secret homemade recipe than a contrived restaurant plate. The quick entree for $17 and a draft German beer for $6 had the entire meal finishing up around $28 when the tax and tip was included so it's not so bad if one is eating on the lighter side.  Did anyone check it out this weekend?


  1. My wife and I were also there, we chose to eat in the bar area for speed.

    We tried the following
    Oysters - very good and not too pricey at $3 each
    Shrimp and Grits - shrimp were very good but grits had tomato in as did the sauce and it was too much, this was the least successful dish
    Steak frites - nice portion of steak with an excellent sauce, fries were OK, not and good as I'd hoped, too skinny. $29 - good for the portion.

    Overall, it's just what we need up here, hope a bar or three follow.

  2. We were there at 7pm and they informed as that there would be three-hour waiting before seated (by the time we're seated, the kitchen is closed), so we left. Maybe next time.

  3. I was there Friday, and I enjoyed the food and ambience ...Steak, crab cakes & salmon were amazing. Bar staff was slow, but I am sure they will work out the kinks in due time....Overall had a great experience and I am glad we have a new addition to Harlem dining experience.........

  4. You are so great to post this review. I LOVE THIS SITE!

  5. Great Info !!!!

    I will go when I am back in NYC next month...Does anyone know if you need a reservation ?

    Merde Merde Merde Marcus !!!

  6. Merde? Rather an indictment of the food.

    Pesky typo I hope.

  7. Sanou's Mum....

    LOL No typo....Merde also means "good luck" or "break a leg" for creative types !!
    I did some gigs here in France a,d musicians always say "merde" before a concert or game....Good question !!

  8. I got the yard bird but they forgot the shake. And I didn't realize it until it was too late. Maybe I wouldn't have thought it a bit bland had I received the shake? Though I am the first to admit that I don't usually go nuts for restaurant fried chicken-- I really like the spices in KFC. Yeah, I know . . . . I enjoyed Red Rooster in general but look forward to when the menu has more non-soul food options. Its good and all but there are so many other places for that already.

  9. We just got a message request booking for a 75 head count dinner party at the Red Rooster...but we don't book for the restaurant. Found the events planning on their website and directed the request over. Seems like interest is really high!

  10. had a great dinner there, how fantastic to have a high style restaurant in the area. We love the place nextdoor and this is as good with a more upscale interior.The chicken was particularly good as was the cauliflower. Desserts were not so thrilling-maybe stay away from the sweet potato doughnut with its strange beige ooze.
    Wait staff is attentive, meal happened slowly because the place was a zoo on Monday night.

  11. Hubs and I went on the Sunday of opening weekend. The yard bird was great, and I would highly recommend the Whiskey Fudge if you want a small dessert. Delicious! We had a great seat and watched Marcus prepare our food - he came over and chatted with us for a bit too. Bobby Flay and his wife showed up for dinner while we were there, which was pretty cool. Definitely felt the tension of a first weekend opening, and there are some kinks that need to be worked out, but had a great experience overall.

    Side note: the chairs are horrible.

  12. To each his own; we were there for the inaugural gospel brunch today, sand everything was delicious, INCLUDING the sweet potato doughnuts!