It’s Travel Tuesday and I’m talking about my impromptu trek to Harlem!
Harlem’s just a subway ride away from the city, but I rarely go past the 70’s unless I’m treating myself to a chocolate chip walnut cookie from Levain… however, I have a reason to go a little bit farther now.
As I exited the subway station at 125th street, my jaw almost dropped. Harlem is HUGE. The streets are wide and it looks like a cleaner, larger version of Chelsea! I mean seriously, I felt as if someone was playing an Iceland/Greenland trick- thank goodness Red Rooster exists otherwise I would still be stuck in the crowds downtown!
ENVIRONMENT: Walking into Red Rooster is like a cultural timewarp. I felt welcomed by soul, rhythm, blues, pride, and heritage. Every inch of Red Rooster is decorated in style- antique-esqe china plates, nostalgic bottles on the bar, newsie caps, recipes on the wallpaper, a spacious open kitchen- every single detail is intentional.
Red Rooster is classy, fun and exciting!
RESTAURANT WEEK: I looked at the restaurant week menu and didn’t see their fried chicken listed. I reviewed the regular menu vs the RW menu and almost decided on ordering the YardBird for $27.00 until I saw Helgas Meatballs on the Restaurant Week Menu.
FOOD: I decided to order the $25.00 RW Special which included Chilled Carrot Soup, Helga’s Meatballs ($23.00), a side of Cornbread ($4.00 extra) and a Banana Nut Cupcake. Technically, I only spent an additional two dollars for the chilled carrot soup and the cupcake but I’m not sure if I really needed to splurge on additional food. The chilled carrot soup was nice, but Helgas Meatball were more than satisfying. Actually, they were PHENOMENAL. The RW portion was generous and I ended up taking half of it home with me (however, keep in mind, my friends say I eat like a bird).
SERVICE: The waiters at Red Rooster are wonderful. Extremely professional yet oh-so-friendly and personable. I honestly wouldn’t expect anything less from Marcus Samuelsson standards.
OVERALL: I’m SO glad I decided to come to Harlem. I knew the food at Red Rooster was going to be delicious, but I didn’t realize I was going to have a taste of Marcus Samuelsson’s past. After reading Yes Chef, I understood the reason why this Harlem Restaurant was serving Swedish meatballs. I understood that Helga was his adopted Swedish Grandmother and that the time spent with his grandmother when he started to appreciate the culinary arts.
I can’t explain how much I enjoyed eating those swedish meatballs; every element in that dish made sense to me.
And I know that I’ve told you how much I admire Marcus Samuelsson when I worked with him at the James Beard Foundation, but for a chef to put an entire story into one bite? That just blows my mind. Well done Chef.LML NOTE: Looking forward to attending a Gospel brunch at Ginny’s Supper Club in the future (and when that day comes, I will be wearing a fancy hat while I eat).