Sometimes, the bored posturing of the downtown brunch scene wears thin. Red Rooster to the rescue.
Sunday brunch at Marcus Samuelsson's new Harlem restaurant is a raucous, post-church affair, complete with a gospel singer who wades through the crowd.
The weekly fixture has a strict no-reservations policy, so embrace this mandate by clustering around Red Rooster's glorious horseshoe-shaped bar. Order a bowl of berbere-spiced nuts with dried sour cherries and chips of injera ($4) to go with any one of the house-infused bourbon cocktails, such as the Big Red Rooster ($14), made with cinnamon-saturated bourbon, Dolin Rouge, Averna Amaro and orange bitters.
When you're finally seated at a table, begin with slices of warm corn bread accompanied by pots of honey butter and tomato jam ($4). From there, brunch standards like chocolate-pecan waffles ($14) are available, but why bother when you can have a bowl of creamy tomato-soaked red grits with poached eggs and shrimp ($15) or nuggets and toast ($15), aka boneless fried-chicken pieces over buttermilk French toast, all lathered with maple syrup.
Over the years, Samuelsson has cooked Scandinavian, Asian fusion and Japanese cuisines, but the food at Red Rooster, a personal comfort-food mash-up of Southern American, Swedish and Ethiopian food, is his boldest move yet.
And to that we say hallelujah.
Red Rooster Harlem, 310 Lenox Ave. (between 125th and 126th sts.); 212-792-9001 or redroosterharlem.com