One of my favorite parts of the city is Harlem. It’s up and coming, but at the same time it is still so original. It’s spacious and international with lots of history and pizzazz. The restaurant scene is developing beyond the soul food that is famous for the area, and needless to say it was time for a trip uptown.
The Red Rooster is one of the better known restaurants in Harlem, mainly due to well known owner Marcus Samuelsson, a James Beard Award winning chef. Being of Ethiopian heritage, he was raised is Sweden, and is now gracing us with his presence and cooking here in New York City. I had already dined at Street Bird, one of his many restaurants, but it was time to finally visit the Red Rooster, located in Central Harlem.
It was a beautiful day, and the seating outside the restaurant was filling up fast. I, however, chose a seat close to the open kitchen, I just love watching the chefs in action. I ordered myself a cocktail named Rasperry Beret, which was gin based and yummy, and awaited my culinary journey. My appetizer was Berbere Smoked Salmon with Swedopian mustard and Injera, an African flatbread. Amazing.
My next course was supposed to be Jerk Catfish with grits with lump crab, coconut, lima beans, and piccalilli, but I was distracted by some deviled eggs I kept seeing being served, so I added them to my repertoire. They were made with chicken skin mayo and crackling…. they were addictive.
I finally came to the main event of the meal, and I was so glad I went with the catfish. Strongly seasoned yet light and flaky, it was a treat! I rounded off the meal with a dessert named Iman (assuming it is named after the Somali supermodel, how could I not choose that). It consisted of Almond sponge cake soaked in Ethiopian coffee syrup, chocolate ganache, black pepper tuile and vanilla ice cream, in other words edible heaven.
I had an amazing time, the restaurant is fresh and spacious with an awesome staff and art in every available space while the music is playing. Truly a great experience for all your five senses.
Sexy Taco/Dirty Cash
Call me crazy, but a restaurant with a name like Sexy Taco/Dirty Cash deserves a visit. I just love the name. It first came to my attention at the Harlem Eat Up Festival, where they were serving tacos from one of the stands. It was one of my favorite bites that day, and I vowed to visit the restaurant, and so I did.
It was around 9 pm on a very warm evening, and their seating outside was also taken up fast. I grabbed a seat inside this colorful restaurant. The place has a fun and upbeat vibe to it, and their cocktail list promises a fun evening. But I came for tacos.
I ended up trying a little bit of a whole lot! My tiny table was jam packed with Chicken tacos a la Cubana (roasted tomatoes, white wine, chipotle Adobo), Fried Codfish tacos (chipotle Old Bay remoulade, red cabbage slaw), and Carne Avocada (New Mexico style braised pork). I’ve had my share of tacos, and these were outstanding. Of course I had to accompany my meal with an order of guacamole and chips, which were right on the mark, and also an order of Mac’n’cheese, being that it was highly recommended by my spunky waiter. Turned out it was recommended for good reason, it was pretty darn good. I decided to take most of it home to my kids (who are forever grateful that I decided to be a food blogger). Even though I dined alone that day, I had a fun evening in a fun place with excellent food!
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m not too big on sweet stuff. It takes something special to get me involved.
Levain Bakery is something special.
I recently visited their Harlem location to fill up on their immensely delicious and ginormous cookies. There’s no seating, no cappuccinos, no fuss. You are literally inside where the magic happens; right behind the counter is where the cookies are baked! It smells great as soon as you walk in, and there is a good chance that you leave with more cookies than you were planning to. Their assortment of cookies consists of Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip. And that’s really all you need, they are fantastic, and according to the line outside the bakery, everybody else seems to think so too. And lets not forget about the Cinnamon Brioche that I threw in for good measure, which needless to say, was just as scrumptious!