When I told people that I was moving to Harlem, a fair amount of them immediately asked, "Tell me where you live...like, how close are you to Red Rooster?"
I wouldn't use Red Rooster as a gauge for life in Harlem, but it is a huge draw for Manhattanites to venture up north on the 2/3 line for some Southernesque eats. The restaurant is one of Marcus Samuelson's haunts, Top Chef winner / Iron Chef contender, if you care about any of that (who cares about any of that, right? Morimoto is the only Iron Chef that matters!).
Tour buses have been dropping loads of tourists in Harlem every weekend of late. A bus goes to Sylvia's. Another goes to Londel's. It's a weird, particularly white scene at these spots.
We came to Red Rooster early (~11:30a) to beat the crowd, nabbed outdoor seats on the nicest day to hit NYC all spring and sipped on creamy lattes while listening to a soulful lady croon jazz table to table.
An order of $4 cornbread with bits of yellow corn was served with whipped butter and tomato jam. The cornbread was on the dry side, and benefited from a heavy pour of tomato sauce across the top. I'd skip this though - Amy Ruth's cornbread is much tastier and complimentary !
An order of the Yard Bird was quite a looker of a plate with two pieces of dark meat, mashed potatoes and housemade hot sauce.
The skin was one of the prettiest shades of crimson I'd ever seen - completely speckled with spices like cumin and paprika.
The chicken, brined in buttermilk, was juicy, the skin thin, crisp and spiced with the flavors of the Middle East. The unique take on fried chicken was fun, and coupled with the lady crooner (singing Old McDonald to a two year old for everyone to hear), and the warm spring day, it was a nice little brunch. That hot sauce is some good stuff.
The scene is lively, the outdoor seating clutch for people watching along Lenox, but I'm still a little unconvinced on the food for now !
Han's Nonsensical Rating: If you're looking for an ethnic twist on fried chicken, Red Rooster serves up a powerful piece of poultry, but I can't see myself seeking this dish again anytime soon!
310 Lenox Ave
New York, NY