While Reggie’s aunt watched the boys, Reggie and I went to Red Rooster Harlem for a special lunch date yesterday. Since I started focusing more on food, friends have been saying that I should include restaurant reviews on the site, but I won’t. To me, food is too subjective for me to judge. From time to time, I will share my opinion about my dining out experiences though. This is one of those times.
My initial assessment was positive. The restaurant is bright and bustling with an active bar area when entering from the street. The staff is also very warm and welcoming. The décor is lovely, with a variety of artwork on the walls. There is also a really great mixture of people – both racially and “stage of life” – during lunch. There were couples on dates, girlfriends hanging out together as well as families with young kids. While I wouldn’t call it a romantic lunch spot (it’s a little too “tight” – the tables are placed closely together – and busy for that designation), it was definitely a fun place to have lunch.
Before we went to the restaurant, I had researched the food online to see which dishes received the greatest marks. Going in, I already knew what we wanted to order…the cornbread, the shrimp & dirty rice, the fried yard bird and the sweet potato doughnuts for dessert. I was disappointed that they no longer serve the shrimp & dirty rice, so Reggie and I switched up our dish orders. You can see what we ordered below…
The corn bread was really good. It wasn’t as sweet as the corn bread that we make in the South, but we really enjoyed it. It came with a tomato jam (that I didn’t really like) and a honey butter (that I loved).
Then, Reggie and I ordered two dishes to share. The Fried Yard Bird dish was great. Basically, it’s fried dark meat chicken. It’s hard for us to be impressed by fried chicken because both Reggie and I can cook really great fried chicken. (Also, when you’re cooking for large groups in a restaurant, it’s impossible to season to everyone’s specific tastes.) Their fried chicken was really good though – flavorful, thoroughly cooked and not greasy. The hot sauce and white mace gravy that were served with the chicken along with the collard greens that served as the bed for the chicken were the parts that made it “better than homemade”. They were amazing.
Since the shrimp & rice dish wasn’t an option, we ordered the Red Rooster Burger instead. Reggie’s a big burger fan anyway, so he was happy. It really was a flavorful burger. The spicy mayonnaise and mushrooms made it special. The truffle fries that came with the burger were especially delicious. They were so good, that the fries stood alone…no ketchup necessary.
I must say that the lunch portions are significant and filling. We really didn’t need to order dessert…but I’m glad that we did. The Sweet Potato Doughnuts were the perfect ending to our lunch date. They were sweet, but not too sweet. With the cinnamon sugar coating, they reminded me of the homemade doughnuts that I used to make as a little girl – minus the oil. The sweet potato filling that was piped into the profiterole type donuts was perfect…and so was the whipped cream that was served with the dish.
Although we didn’t take our kids with us, an incident that happened at the restaurant confirmed that not only does Red Rooster Harlem have great food, but it is also a very family-friendly restaurant. One of the young kids at a table near us dropped a dessert plate on the floor and it broke in half. The little kid became nervous and wasn’t listening to his mom’s words of comfort: “It’s okay. You’re alright.” Then, the male maitre d came over. He knelt down to the little boy’s eye level, smiled, lifted his hand and said “High five”. The kid gave him a high five and was all smiles again. All was well in his little world. How sweet is that? It’s (almost) as sweet as their sweet potato doughnuts.