Streetbird Rotisserie (CLOSED)
Time Out says
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Dining out in New York means regular run-ins with the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s get the ugly out of the way, shall we? The Sweet Dog ($5) at Streetbird Rotisserie—a toothachingly sugary riff on Swedish semla, a Shrove Tuesday delicacy of brioche topped with almond paste and whipped cream—is unfortunately one of the worst things you will put in your mouth this year, if you dare deem to order it. Its daffy resemblance to a frankfurter doesn’t help it go down any easier.
There are, thankfully, more edible things to be had at Marcus Samuelsson’s latest uptown kitchenette, a wishbone’s throw from his upscale home-style flagship, Red Rooster Harlem, though the good is quickly overtaken by the bad. “But the place looks so cool!” Samuelsson groupies harp. And it certainly does, a bright blitzkrieg of early hip-hop bric-a-brac (an interactive boom-box wall, ’80s-era Run-D.M.C. portraits, graffiti tagged by Def Jam creative director Cey Adams) intermingled with historic-Harlem odds and ends, like the OLD FASHION' BUT GOOD! sign salvaged from soul-food icon M&G Diner and the repurposed church pews that have been upholstered in vintage Louis Vuitton textiles. It’s an eye-candy set piece befitting the dapper, James Beard Award–winning toque behind the place.
But no amount of dizzying design could distract you from the fact that the namesake dish—served as quarters ($5.50 for dark meat, $6 for white), half ($9.50) or a whole chicken ($15)—lacks sufficient crunch to match its admirably juicy, though timidly seasoned flesh. (Samuelsson falls back on of-your-choosing sauces like sweet soy and smoky barbecue to add much-needed pops of flavor.) Or that the lo mein–like Sho’ Nuff noodles ($9) are so epically gummy that you can’t appreciate the acidic funk of the pickled mustard greens tangled in those strands.
Otherwise lively plates like the Hot Splash ($8), fermented-teff tack tack tortillas toppling with zesty piri piri catfish and cooling avocado cubes, and the Swediopian ($9.50), covering a spongy sheet of Ethiopian flatbread injera with doro wat, boiled eggs and collard greens, arrive tepid—literally. Rather than staggering the family-style dishes throughout the course of a meal, the friendly-though-frenzied staff serves everything in one fell swoop and, as was the case on two recent meals, cold.
Opening kinks are to be expected with any restaurant, but Samuelsson is no spring chicken. Harlem deserves better.
2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave)
|Cross street:||between 115th and 116th Sts|
|Transport:||Subway: B, C to 116th St|
|Price:||Average entrée: $18. AmEx, Disc, MC, V.|
|Opening hours:||Daily 11am–11pm|
|Do you own this business?|