It's shocking to me how many different complete concepts can be eked out in the single space that Red Rooster occupies on 125th and Lenox. It's like the Swiss Army Knife of restaurants. The newest is The Nook, which offers four sandwiches. Here's our take.
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The dust-up between Eddie Huang and Marcus Samuelsson—about Samuelsson's new memoir, Yes, Chef, and the role of Red Rooster in Harlem's food scene—raises some questions that we think about often, about the intersection of "ethnic cuisine" and fine dining. Is Red Rooster a neighborhood restaurant for Harlemites that's also a destination downtowners, or a fancy spot that doesn't belong?
You'll find tender marinated chunks of spiced lamb, supplementing the potatoes with cubes of sweet potato and earthy beets. The whole thing is cooked down with plenty of rosemary and served in a hot cast iron skillet smothered in creamy, lemony hollandaise.
We never tire of meatballs—be they beef or lamb, pork or veal, all of the above. We've found ones we love on sandwiches and on "sliders," of Mexican and of Swedish persuasion, at pizza joints and lunch counters and pork stores. In the end, we couldn't rank one above the rest—but we can present you 15 meatballs in New York City we love.
It's easy to want Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson's new 125th Street soul-food-with-a-twist spot, to succeed. Despite the busloads of tourists scarfing down mediocre ribs and fried chicken from nearby Sylvia's, the dining landscape in this neck of the woods is pretty grim. Can Red Rooster change the landscape of fine dining in Harlem?
"Welcome to Harlem," was the greeting diners got from a smiling Marcus Samuelsson at the Friday night opening of Red Rooster, his eagerly anticipated Harlem restaurant and lounge. A six-year resident of the neighborhood, he's banking his reputation and payroll on Harlem being able to support a moderately high-end restaurant.