Back in the days when I had cable (and no, not the kind of “cable” that I have right now where you only get 5 channels), my TV was constantly on Food Network. And if it wasn’t, it was on ESPN but that was because of my boyfriend. That’s a pretty good way to explain it…the way guys are about watching ESPN is how I am with Food Network. Barefoot Contessa; Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives; and Iron Chef are some of my favorite shows, but my most favorite show? The one that I can never look away from or even think about turning off the TV when it comes on? Chopped.
There’s just something about that show that makes me completely obsessed. Such fun ingredients! All the speed and stress! Of course I have to wait and see who wins! Once I moved to New York City, I started to remember that those Chopped judges weren’t just, well, judges. They were actually restaurateurs and professional chefs. Duh, right? Well, if I was never going to get the chance to meet them in person (or at least not yet *fingers crossed*), I could at least go to their restaurants.
I made a reservation at Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant, Red Rooster a month in advance. Not by choice though. It’s just one of those places where you have to book early because it’s always packed. It just so happens that the day I came here was the same day I woke up early to get a Cronut at Dominique Ansel’s. Basically, it was a really good food day because I woke up, got a Cronut, went back to sleep, woke up, and went to Red Rooster. I’m not lying when I say that that is literally all I did that Saturday, and I loved it.
The vibe in this place is great. Hip yet warm and friendly and cozy. My friends and I decided that we wanted to try as many things as possible to make the most of our time at Red Rooster since it was such an effort getting a table there, so we got the cornbread as well as the fried chicken and waffles to start. I loved how thick and buttery the cornbread was, and the honey butter and tomato jam that came with it were excellent. The fried chicken also came with its own special spreads, being bourbon maple syrup and chicken liver butter (I was totally loving all these unique combos by the way). The skin was fried perfectly, so thick and crunchy, and the chicken liver butter, although the most unusual combination, had a great saltiness to it that paired well with the sweet syrup.
While I was originally thinking about getting the fried yardbird as my entree, I wanted to make sure I tried different things, so I ordered Helga’s Meatballs and a side order of macaroni and cheese because I couldn’t resist. The meatballs came with lingonberries, braised cabbage, and mashed potatoes. Lingonberries? Yeah, I didn’t know either but I liked it. It was just one of those dishes where every component comes together to create something great. And MAN these mashed potatoes were AWESOME. So incredibly creamy and just melt in your mouth and basically some of the best I’ve had. The mac ‘n cheese was also heavenly because it was rich and cheesy, and I loved the pasta they used instead of the normal elbow macaroni. So, as you can see from the photos, I had a massive meal, but totally worth feeling bloated for because everything here was simply outstanding. If you’re ever in the need for some comfort food, you gotta load up at Red Rooster.
And some final thoughts…my friend had some of the crawfish grits and couldn’t stop raving about them so you might want to look into that. Also, I had originally wanted to do brunch here because it’s a Gospel Sunday brunch and supposedly very fun, but those reservations are harder to get so you might have to look into that even earlier. Even if you have to make a reservation a month in advance for a time when you have absolutely no idea if you’ll be free or not, just do it. Build your schedule around Red Rooster, because it’s worth it.
Chicken & waffle, cornbread, Helga’s meatballs, macaroni and cheese
310 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027