As a Harlem native and neighborhood regular at Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson's Harlem hot spot (take a look at our full review here), I've been following the progression of the downstairs space with great attention. When Red Rooster first opened a year ago, the space under the restaurant was little more than a gutted concrete hole that you could catch a glimpse of as you walked towards the restrooms. When it finally opened up a few months later, it was a cavernous dance hall, home to a rave-like atmosphere on Friday and Saturday nights: dark lighting, a pounding beat, simple mixed drinks. It was never quite the homage to classic Harlem night clubs that Samuelsson had promised.
With its recent—and hopefully final—rebirth, it's emerged as a stylish new nightclub called Ginny's Supper Club. Samuelsson and partner Andrew Chapman are clear that Ginny's is not part of Red Rooster. Rather, it is a restaurant space unto itself, with a separate kitchen, separate menu, and separate drinks program. With an atmosphere that hearkens back to the jazz era while appearing thoroughly modern, Ginny's has already become the place to go to in the neighborhood. The glamorous space is accented with leather, polished wood, and gold accents, the bar pressed shoulder to shoulder every night with visitors and locals alike. In the three nights I've been there (twice as an anonymous guest, once to take photos), the space has never been less than packed, complete with a full dance floor in the back, where there's space for a nightly live band (a Cuban band one night, a jazz quartet another, and a DJ on the third).
Both the cocktail menu, designed by Eben Klemm, and the dining menu from Chef Jeremie Tomczak draw influences from Jazz-era Harlem supper club menus. That means an eclectic mix of Soul Food (think boneless chicken and waffles with chicken-liver cognac butter), French (an updated lobster thermidor), and Chinese flavors (a salad based off of Chinese-American honey-walnut prawns).
Take a peek at the slideshow above for some of the food, and check out a first look of the drinks menu here.
Ginny's Supper Club
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.