The American South takes on the East End

Red Rooster in Shoreditch in the beating heart to a new members’ hotel, The Curtain. Descending the stairs from the swanky hotel reception, you arrive in Harlem. With heady scents of the signature soul food and a live band with staff dancing along, a dreary night in December was filled with promise.

Acclaimed New York chef Marcus Samuelson opened Red Rooster in May of this year. Since then he and his team have been combining Southern soul food with a New York feel, bringing it straight to East London.

We sat on a high table right next the open kitchen, able to see where the culinary magic began. While we drank prosecco, we snacked on warm cornbread with whipped honey butter and spicy tomato jam. It was warm and comforting with a slight kick, much like the music from the live band, Ego Trippin’ with Falco Two. Red Rooster has live music every evening during the week, but most interestingly a live Gospel Choir performs to Sunday brunchers. Weekends book up fast so make sure you don’t miss out by booking here.

The relaxed vibe continued into the starting dishes which included ‘Uncle T’s Gravlax’ with soft boiled eggs, and a dish called ‘Ol’ Man Shrimp ‘n’ Grits which consisted of melting pork and classic American Southern grits (a sort of flavoursome paste made from ground and boiled corn- tastier than it sounds).

The highlight though was the gently creamy burrata served with fresh figs and heirloom tomatoes. A classic and fairly simple combination, but the freshness of the ingredients really made this dish stand out, the sweetness of the figs balanced with the soft burrata and the sweet-sharp of the tomatoes. It’s important to mention that not only did these dishes taste delicious, they were artfully presented on giant platters, looking like something straight out of a foodie magazine.

The ‘Bird Royal Feast’ didn’t disappoint, delivering on promises of spicy fried chicken falling off the bone served with waffles, biscuits, gravy and mac ‘n’ cheese. A surprisingly good vegan option was found in the roasted cauliflower, sweet and sticky with buffalo spiced sauce.

The East End ‘Fish Pie’ didn’t seem to arrive with the squid ink jus the menu suggested, but it was enjoyable nonetheless with fragrant lemongrass and chilli, a lighter dish to balance the heady Southern dishes.

I have very few negative things to say about Red Rooster: the staff were fun, friendly and especially patient when I missed the etiquette and gave away my cutlery. Price wise, it is at the slightly more expensive end, but for cold winter’s evening this place is a firecracker worth paying for.