Having made the trek from Brooklyn up to Harlem to meet a friend I decided to check out the much publicised Red Rooster. The chef/owner Marcus Samuelsson is something of a big deal here. At 24 he became head chef of Aquavit a Scandinavian restaurant. He was promptly awarded 3 stars by the NY Times. There followed other less succesful restaurant ventures and the inevitable stint on TV. In 2009 he was the first chef to prepare a state banquet for President Obama and then towards the end of last year he opened Red Rooster in Harlem.
I ordered the pulled pork ‘sandwich’. It came with no side and as you can see was not really a sandwich. It had all the hallmarks of someone trying too hard, a smear of something under the strange bread, julienne cucumber and crispy fried onions were all tasty but unnecessary touches. The seating was awkward as I was sat right up front by the pass, but on a shared table, I know I was eating alone but the place was pretty much empty. It did give me a good view but sadly there was nothing exciting to see and certainly no sign of a celebrity chef.
After service my sandwich was $18, which is pricey in NY considering it did not come with a side. All this brings me back to the original question: When is $18 dollars for a sandwich that is not even a sandwich a good deal?
The answer; when it could have cost $30,800. It seems Obama was so impressed with Samuelsson’s food that he decided to use his Harlem restaurant as a good place for a fundraising gig to connect with his NYC supporters. Apparently it costs a lot of money to get a sit down with the big man. Needless to say I will not be returning that day. Imagine first the delight when you are sat next to President Obama, and then imagine the shock when you are presented with a bill for thirty large ones….