Neighborhood: Central Harlem
Atmosphere: Low-key, Jazz
Crowd/Scene: Food & Music lovers
Foursquare Check-in: http://4sq.com/1lGb7u1
Rating: 3 Stars
Despite having been in the same building as Red Rooster many times (Red Rooster operates a club downstairs called Ginny’s), I had never actually eaten at the restaurant that has garnered rave reviews since before it even opened its doors.
To get right to it, I thought the food was okay. I always hesitate to mark a restaurant down based off one experience, because I’ve had one-off bad experiences with some of the venues I love and frequent the most. Thus, I won’t say that the food at Red Rooster is anything less than okay, and I’ll admittedly divulge that I’m not basing my review here off of anything more than 1 single visit. However, my experience, on the day I went there, wasn’t all that great.
I’ll start with the service, which was rather slow and incompetent. Our waitress tended not to care that we were kind of in a hurry, that we had been seated late despite having reservations, or that the tables to the left and right of us seemed to be getting faster and more attentive service than us. One example of all of this was at the end, when we were down with our food and ready for the check, and we had to wait about 25 minutes before we could ever get our waitresses attention.
But I digress–on to the food. For starters, I had the Rooster Hot Wings. You would think for an establishment with rooster in its name, located in Harlem, next to Sylvia’s, and with a well-established chef running the joint, that they would get their namesake wings on point. That was not the case. The wings were overcooked, had flaky skin, and to be honest, the buffalo sauce used wasn’t all that special. The wings also came with fried oysters. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough, but fried oysters, from a taste point of view, aren’t a good idea.
For dinner, I had “Helga’s Meatballs.” They weren’t good at all, and I really wish somebody had told me that. Again, it’s my opinion that when you try to serve classic comfort foods, you really can’t afford to fail at these things. I’ve had better meatballs and chicken wings at bars around the corner from Red Rooster, so I really was expecting something better.
Perhaps this experience was on me. Perhaps I went into Red Rooster, having read and listened to all the hype for over a year, and it just didn’t have a chance to live up to the Chef-Roble-esque hype that people had bestowed upon it. It’s also entirely possible that I foolishly picked the wrong dishes, because I know people, whose food opinions I respect, that swear by this establishment, so it could be that I just didn’t do it the right way.
Nonetheless, you won’t see me making any reservations for Red Rooster anytime soon. Perhaps I will come back if I’m invited out with some friends and they just so happen to pick this spot. Otherwise, it will be a while before I give this seemingly mis-hyped venue some more of my time.