A destination restaurant, Red Rooster is the only reason many well-heeled New Yorkers ever come to Harlem. Three words why: Chef Marcus Samuelsson (also of Aquavit, he won Top Chef: Masters in 2012). So is it “all that”? I’m on the fence. Yes, it has a wonderful atmosphere (it’s one of the few truly multiracial social scenes in the city), a hopping bar, live music in the basement, and a handsome decor. Most of the appetizers—which, like the rest of the menu, range from Southern classics to African fare to Scandinavian cuisine—are delish. But when it comes to the pricier main dishes I’m inevitably disappointed, especially in the signature yard bird (fried chicken, very dry), and Helga’s meatballs (too heavy). Since I once lived in the neighborhood for six months, I ate there half a dozen times, and eventually started making my meals entirely of appetizers. If you do the same, I think you’ll enjoy the place immensely.
- Pauline Frommer