How to Navigate Red Rooster's Vegetarian Items
The Veggielante is on a mission to spread the word about places to order good, meatless grub. Check out this week's pick.
Mac and greens at Red Rooster | Tara Mahadevan
Destination: Red Rooster (310 Lenox Avenue; 212-792-9001)
Neighborhood: East Harlem
Overview: Red Rooster was opened in 2010 by Top Chef winner Marcus Samuelsson and co-creator Andrew Chapman, and it was named after the infamous Harlem speakeasy that was once located not too far from the restaurant's current location. Samuelsson and culinary director Joel Harrington trade on a menu that derives its base from Harlem-style Southern cuisine with flourishes from Samuelsson's international upbringing (note the nod to Sweden via Helga's meatballs with lingonberry, where Samuelsson spent his childhood, and the lamb ribs with injera crisp, which pays homage to the chef's native Ethiopia). The restaurant also caters to local artists and musicians: The walls are lined with artwork, and sibling venue Ginny's Supper Club hosts almost-nightly live music events.
Highlights: Red Rooster turns out a meaty menu, but vegetarians will find a couple of paths by which they can navigate the list. The mac and greens ($18) is one route; the rich, decadent mac and cheese comes filled with caramelized onions and collard greens. A top layer of baked gouda lends smokiness and crunchier texture, while sharp cheddar also injects creaminess. A side arugula salad -- topped with carrots and cauliflower -- provides nice contrasting lightness, even if the dressing is a little on the salty side.
You should also order the cornbread ($4), a unique rendition that it would be a shame to skip. The corn-studded bread arrives thickly sliced and warmed with a side of light, sweet honey butter and savory, tart tomato jam. Combine the two for the best effect.
Cornbread at Red Rooster | Tara Mahadevan