Owners: Marcus Samuelsson/Samuelsson Group
Chef: Andrea Bergquist
The Buzz: Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethopian-born, Swedish raised celebrity chef who has defied genre since he began turning heads at Aquavit almost two decades ago is at it again in the neighborhood he has long called home, Harlem. On paper, this is a southern/soul food joint: fried chicken (“yard bird”), shrimp and grits, mac-and-greens. But Samuelsson and the day-to-day chef Andrea Bergquist, a veteran of Tabla and Craft Steak, throw in a lot of the owner’s heritage into the menu: his grandma’s Swedish meatballs, an Ethiopian chicken stew with injera bread, etc. It’s not really about the food here – which is merely good, far for great – but rather the vibe. Located right off 125th Street, literally and figuratively between the Apollo Theater and Bill Clinton’s office, Red Rooster is a buzzy mix of races, backgrounds and incomes, who pack the curvy deco bar, the bi-level dining rooms and the club downstairs. It’s the new Harlem Renaissance, personified.