Red Rooster – Harlem, NYC

Finally made it to Red Rooster!

Review By: Stefanie Parks –

My mom came to visit me in New York, and naturally, all I really wanted to do while she was in town was shop and eat. Red Rooster was one of the first places on mine and Dave’s list, so deciding to take my mom there was a no-brainer. We had actually made a reservation for Thursday night (my mom came in on Wednesday), but some of our plans changed and we decided to go on Wednesday night instead (sans reservation).

We didn’t get to the restaurant until around 9pm, but there was still an hour wait. The hostess was not so nice, but she did tell us that we should go downstairs and check out Ginny’s Supper Club while we waited. Ginny’s is (as the website states) “a modern reincarnation of the glamourous speakeasies and Harlem nights of the Twenties.” If that’s really what Harlem was like in the 20’s then Ginny’s made me wish I lived back then. It had a very cool atmosphere, a perfectly eclectic mix of people, and most importantly, great drinks and food to hold us over while we waited for our table.

The menu at Ginny’s is slightly different than the menu upstairs at Red Rooster. For the most part, we thought the upstairs menu was better, but there was one thing on the Ginny’s menu that did catch our eyes. Deviled eggs! We immediately went over to the bar and put in our order before even looking for a seat.

We found the one open table in the whole place (lucky us!), grabbed a seat, and now that we were set with our appetizer (my mom isn’t used to waiting until 10pm for dinner, so we had to make sure food was on the way for her…and let’s be honest, me too), we looked through the drink menu. We ordered a sazerac and old fashioned for me and Dave and then a martini for my mom (of course, as usual, she wanted to order something that wasn’t on the menu).

Our deviled eggs came with three in the order (perfect!) and were delicious. They really reminded me how much I love (and miss) deviled eggs. As great as they were though, the drinks were even better. Dave introduced me to the old fashioned when we first started dating and it instantly became one of my favorite drinks. I had never had a sazerac before, but loved that too.  It was the perfect amount of everything to hold us over (but not fill us up). One of the coolest things about Ginny’s Supper Club though is the fact that they have live music. Unfortunately for us, the music doesn’t start until 10pm, but we decided that we had to come back after our dinner.

An hour later, we went upstairs and our table was waiting for us. They sat us right by the bar (ironically at the same and only table that had been available right when we walked in an hour earlier), and also right by the live band that was playing. I always love a good live band, but being the talker that she is, my mom wasn’t a huge fan, as this greatly inhibited her ability to chat away throughout the whole meal.

We weren’t 100% positive about what we wanted to order, but of course we had a few ideas. The one thing we knew was that we wanted to start with some “snacks.” We decided on three of the four listed on the menu, including the nuts with sour cherries, cornbread with honey butter and tomato jam, and then the seasonal selection of pickles. One snack was better than the next. You know those hot nuts you buy from the carts on the street in nyc? Red Roosters were just like those, but ten times better (if you can imagine/believe that). They had a really great spice to them and were just delicious. I physically had to move them out of my reach so that I’d stop eating them. The cornbread was the best I’ve ever tasted (and I love cornbread). So was the butter. When they said pickles on the menu, I thought we would actually be getting a plate of pickles (you know, like at the deli), but it was actually a variety of pickled vegetables. Definitely not what I was expecting, but that’s probably a good thing. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have ordered them, but I’m glad I did because every single one of the vegetables was delicious – even the onions… and I don’t even like onions.

Once we were done with our snacks (and when I say done, I mean once we realized that if we ate any more we wouldn’t have room for our entree), it was time to decide on the rest of our meal. From the second my mom saw “mac and greens” on the menu with gouda, ny cheddar, and comte, she was pretty much sold. Dave and I, on the other hand, were between the fried yard bird (dark meat, white mace gravy, mashed potatoes, bread, and butter pickles) and the grilled pork loin with spring mushroom ragu, celeriac, and pea tendril. We hadn’t even been thinking about the grilled pork loin until we saw someone else eating it, but we figured that we were at a Southern restaurant, so we should probably try the fried yard bird (even though our waiter did say the pork loin was better).

We were pretty full  by the time our entrees came, but don’t worry. That didn’t stop us. The fried yard bird was good, but not the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. This is going to sound very weird, but it tasted too…. healthy almost. Not that that makes any sense. The meat was great but there was something about the fried part of the fried chicken that tasted a little off to me. The mac and greens on the other hand… wow. Wow, wow, wow. Now that, my friends, is how mac and cheese should be done. Always.

Even though we were all practically in a food coma once we were done (yes, standing and breathing were both very difficult), we still wanted to head back downstairs to Ginny’s to see the band. Turns out it was the same band that had been playing upstairs during our meal, but downstairs, they had a totally different (and so much cooler) vibe. Everyone was so into the atmosphere and the music… Everyone in the whole place was either bobbing their heads to the music or on the floor dancing. And this was on a Wednesday so I can’t even imagine what it’s like on the weekend.

I loved both Red Rooster and Ginny’s Supper Club. In fact, I loved them so much that I might even want to go back for my birthday… And that is a pretty big deal. Best of all, we had enough leftovers for a whole other meal. And let me tell you… the food was just as good the second time around.