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The Early Word on Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster

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After months of delay and false starts, Marcus Samuelsson's new restaurant Red Rooster finally opened to the public this past weekend. The Harlem game-changer, taking up two floors along Lenox Avenue, serves up American cuisine and comfort food, something that isn't at all out of place in the neighborhood. Even the name itself is a nod to Harlem's past as it was once the name of a neighborhood bar that closed its doors in the seventies. It's been in the works for a while but will all that time help Samuelsson and his Fried Yard Bird fly? To the early word:

The WonderFUL News: Chu on food visits and it's safe to say he thought it was totally happy with the place. Before diving into his review, he takes a moment to silence the haters among the Eater commenters. "Someone even said “He won’t be in the restaurant unless there’s a photo shoot. THis place will bomb, just like almost everything else he says he’s going o do. What a hack, what a poseur.” Haha, well guess what Guest #9? Marcus Samuelsson was in the hizouse, and cooking, and visiting tables, and even had time to take a picture with yours truly. =)" He loves, loves, loves the decor. "I have to give it to them on the design! The entire restaurant has is filled with style and vibrant colors... My eye even caught an old-school film camera sitting on one of the top shelves (neat!)... The window size of the open kitchen is great. You can see all the cooks preparing your meal and even a cool open flame grill sat in the middle of the kitchen that gave the dining room audience more added eye candy." Okay, let's get to the food. "The Beef Patty with Salsa Verde was tasty. You get two pieces of mini puff pastry and ground meat inside which was nicely seasoned. The Salsa Verde gave it a nice acidic kick to it and complimented it well... The Gravlax with Purple Mustard was awesome! Cured correctly, presented nicely, and the purple mustard was -ugh!- wonderFUL... The Fried Yard Bird that came with white mace gravy, hot sauce, and collard greens was delicioso!" [Chu on food]

The Mostly Good News: Harlem + Bespoke doesn't waste any time making any bold statements. "Harlem's most highly anticipated restaurant debut in decades finally happened last night at 310 Lenox Avenue." Before the food, some notes on the staff and service. "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." Their food selection on this trip was the Fried Yard Bird. "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." [Harlem + Bespoke]

The "Worth the Anticipation" News: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats offers up an early look at the place. "If first impressions count for anything, the anticipation has been worth it. Case in point: moist, crisp Fried Yardbird ($17, a little too crisp on this visit) starts out like a good Southern version of the dish before unveiling a faint undertone of coconut (it's brined in a mixture of coconut and buttermilk for 3 days). Lightly cured Gravlax ($7) is served with purple mustard and tangy injera, the Ethiopian flatbread which they bake into crisp pita-like chips." After some more praise for the food comes a promise to return. "It's a fun space, equal parts restaurant and bar. I live only a few blocks away and look forward to the introduction of a bar menu and more polished service, which for now, was friendly, but predictably full of opening-night snafus." [SE]

The "Convivial Vibe" News: Zagat Buzz checks in with their first day assessments. "There’s nothing stodgy about the decor – a fake commissary area in the entryway gives off the vibe of a neighborhood shop, and the coolly lit dining room is adorned with black-and-white artwork that jibes with the casual feel of the space. The spot also plays tribute to the ’hood’s heritage with photos of jazz musicians on the walls... The first night was a mix of neighborhood residents stopping by for a drink to scope the buzz, foodies dying to get their hands on some of that fried chicken and Samuelsson groupies showing up to voice their support. The mix (along with those bourbon cocktails) led to a friendly, convivial vibe." [Zagat Buzz]

The Good News: An Eater guest commenter drops by with some thoughts on their meal. "I just had a really nice meal at Red Rooster. It's packed and the food is good. There are a few hiccups to work out but it's a really warm restaurant and it's packed. I doubt many of the commenters on this post will eat at the Rooster and that's too bad because it's worth a trip. you should give Samuelsson a brek... And for the record Samuelsson was in the kitchen at Red Rooster too, though he has an executive chef who is also talented, she worked at Tabla and Craft before the Rooster." [ENY Comments]

The Mostly Good News: Yelper Paul C. visited during the opening weekend and came away happy for the most part. "Oysters - very nice, reasonable at $9 for 3. Steak frites - excellent, perfect char, fries a bit puny for my taste, I wish they were a tiny bit thicker cut. Nice pepper dipping sauce. There were some misses though. "Shrimp and grits - We so wanted to like this, the shrimp were perfectly cooked but grits swamped by the sauce. Apple pie - nice, too much cinnamon for me." But he leaves with an overall good impression, not to mention a souvenir. "A great asset, wonderful staff who were all informative and seemed very cheerful. I also got to get a quick picture with Marcus, he was very generously walking around even in the bar shaking hands etc. A great start, we will be regulars for sure." [Yelp]

The Long Wait News: Yelper Loida V. came here for dinner but that was not to be. "This place was packed @ 8pm on a Friday night - the wait time for a table was 3 hours! As I live in the neighborhood, I plan to come back for dinner or brunch." Instead, she stayed only for drinks and to take in the atmosphere. "I really like the layout as the bar and dining are are discreetly separated. The bar is a round-ish shape for you to easily people-watch and talk with a companion quite easily. The site is very warm & inviting." [Yelp]

The Twitterrific News: There was no shortage of tweets during opening weekend. @GaelGreene visits the second night. "Rooster.FoodieVIP ngt,locals too.Smart look,art-filled room,mixed soul,African,American comfort food. Needs time." @papermagazine boldly tweets, "Best new restaurant; Marcus Samuelsson Red Rooster." @showboat92 tweets, "Great Food, Great People,Extraordinary vibe!It's a must to come here." @caitlinbartz is a big fan. "Comfort food with an africian its finest." @libationdiaries, true to their handle, likes the drinks here. "Red Rooster in Harlem is a #1 pick for American cuisine+proper cocktails!" @SunnyLarson is also a fan of the liquor. "Nutmeg infused bourbon rocks." @BrookeAmor has is posed a cutting question from the chef. "With BF at Red Rooster and Marcus Samuelson asked us "On a blackberry...on a date?"" [Twitter]
—Gary Wong

Red Rooster

2719 Clara Street, , LA 70113 (504) 895-6786 Visit Website

Red Rooster

310 Lenox Ave., New York, NY 10027-4405