What restaurant is on your “must try” list? For me, it was Red Rooster in Harlem. Opened in December of 2010 and owned by renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson, I knew it would be a real treat but never seemed to make my way there. However, that all changed one weekend in March…
On said weekend, I happened to turn a year older. Knowing that brunch is my favorite meal to go out for (I live in New York, after all!), my boyfriend (and the other half of Foodie Pleasure!) planned a surprise trip to Red Rooster for Saturday morning. I must have dropped a hint or two. 😉 The grand irony of it all is that I had plans to go have Sunday brunch at Red Rooster with a group of friends from college! Suffice it to say, I ate well that weekend.
On Saturday, we arrived at Red Rooster around 11 and were taken right to a table. I can’t start the day without coffee, and the drip coffee at Red Rooster did not disappoint. We started our meal with Corn Bread with Honey Butter and Tomato Jam. Honestly, we probably could have ordered about 3 more of those and called it a day; it was out of this world! However, we didn’t stop there. I ordered the Jerk Bacon and Eggs, which was a perfectly spicy “wake me up” complete with brown beans and pikliz. Boyfriend went for the Rooster Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo and Onions and the spicy chorizo was the ideal compliment to the flawlessly cooked eggs. Sometimes, his eyes are bigger than his stomach and he also ordered the Granola with Greek Yogurt, Cinnamon and Honey. We each had a few bites, and let me tell you, it was world’s better than the granola and yogurt mix I throw together for breakfast. (I also use non-fat yogurt, and I bet that would be blasphemy at Red Rooster!) However, we couldn’t finish it so we asked the busboy to box it up alongside a few unfinished bites of my meal. Something must have been lost in translation, because my nearly finished meal came back in a box, but the barely-touched granola was nowhere to be seen. However, when we explained what happened to our server, she returned with a packaged (slightly smaller) version for us to take home. Boyfriend and I nearly rolled out of Red Rooster that morning, completely satisfied and stuffed to the brim.
I was back at Red Rooster for take number two on Sunday around 1 pm. I arrived earlier than my friends, but wasn’t able to put our names down until the entire party arrived. Even though the lobby area was standing room only, the time passed quickly as I was able to enjoy live gospel music and people watch some of Harlem’s finest. My friends arrived and we put our names down and got ready to wait again. I hadn’t seen one of the girls since 2003 so we had plenty to catch up on as we soaked in the music and sights. Once seated, we went for coffee and mimosas, it was a girls’ day after all! We started with more of the corn bread, and also ordered a side of truffle fries. To die for! I wanted to go a little bit lighter on my meal, so I ordered an omelet. It was delicious, but I should have left caution to the wind and gone for something a little more creative. However, food quickly became secondary to our experience when Marcus Samuelsson himself walked in. Wearing a trucker hat, blazer and gold and black Nike’s, he looked quintessentially Harlem. As he walked around Red Rooster, greeting patrons and visiting with the staff, my friends and I each had a moment. I don’t get star-struck easily, but that day, I definitely did. I even bought his book! (Hey… I deserved to buy myself a birthday gift, right?!) We left full of good food, memorable conversation and with a little bit of schoolgirl giddiness over our celebrity sighting.
Red Rooster definitely deserves the acclaim it has received and I can’t wait to go back and try another meal there. If brunch is in your future and your goal is to have unique, delicious food in a low-key atmosphere, check it out on a Saturday around 11. Chances are you’ll be seated promptly and served quickly. However, if you want the full Harlem experience, give yourself a few hours and visit Red Rooster on a Sunday morning. The sound of live gospel, the sight of beautiful people, the scent of soul food and the taste of Red Rooster’s delectable menu will give you an experience not soon to be forgotten.