Here's the thing about Sam Sifton, this particular review is a perfect example of all that I hate about him. Red Rooster is an excellent restaurant. The food is varied, well executed, and quite frankly delicious...more on that later. However, it takes Sam Sifton until the second page of his review before he bothers to insert a throw away paragraph about the food. This is the problem with Sam Sifton - his obsession with the other diners. His review of Red Rooster highlights it in the worst way. He is OBSESSED with the diversity of the crowd, going so far as to claim that Red Rooster "will surely be counted as among the most important" restaurants to be opened this year. Why? Not because the food is amazing, or ground breaking, but because two black women in hats sat next to white men and some mixed race couples. And even more shocking....gays! Lions, and tigers, and bears oh my!!Sam Sifton has apparently not been outside of midtown or the UES in several years. The crowd at Red Rooster is no different than it is at Native, or the new Beer Garden, or any of the other restaurants in Harlem. Leave your little world a bit more often Mr. Sifton and you might not be so surprised to learn that blacks, whites, and everyone in between (regardless of sex or sexual orientation) has learned to get along and appreciate food.
As to the food, and the service, and the other things that restaurant critics (and customers) typically care about...Red Rooster delivers. We had the corn tacos...more like ceviche in a tiny hard taco shell...and they were superb. Crispy, fresh, and the perfect way to begin a meal. The cornbread served with honey butter and tomato jam is the perfect pairing of crunchy, sweet, and a hint of salt. For entrees we had the blackened catfish which is served over a bed of slow cooked greens with black eyed peas, and topped with a "slaw" of celery root. The fish was perfectly cooked with an interesting spice that was just a shade different than your average blackened...substituting a vaguely Ethiopian flavor for classic cayenne. We also had his famous Swedish meatballs...they are famous for a reason and try not to think Ikea and be prejudiced.
Dessert...simple perfect flavors.
And that is a review of a review. Sam Sifton, I hate you, get fired. Red Rooster...job well done...but sorry one star not 2.