Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Streetbird

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Streetbird

Article excerpt

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Dishes $7-$16.



2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (212-206-2557)

The chef Marcus Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia, raised by an adoptive family in Sweden, and made famous as the executive chef at Aquavit, in midtown, is madly in love with Harlem. He moved there in 2005, "from a swanky but soulless place in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to a swanky and soulful brownstone apartment," he wrote in his 2012 memoir, "Yes, Chef." The neighborhood, he was delighted to realize, "was not just black U.S.A. in a snow globe; it was one of the last bastions of New York City as creative people long for it to be." In 2010, he opened Red Rooster, a swanky and soulful restaurant on Lenox Avenue, and began to establish himself as Harlem's veritable mayor, enticing local regulars--including, especially, the creative elite--plus visiting V.I.P.s and celebrity-chasing tourists, with an elegantly global menu, effortlessly combining the flavors of the American South, Ethiopia, Sweden, and beyond.

This spring, Samuelsson doubled down on his community outreach and introduced Streetbird, a more casual venture with an emphasis on rotisserie chicken, eaten in or taken out. If, with Red Rooster, Samuelsson tread gingerly as he sought acceptance from the object of his affection, he's confident enough now to shout his adoration from the rooftops. The new place is a lively, endearing but painfully unsubtle homage to Harlem through the decades, from the graffiti on the rafters to the sneakers dangling from the sprinkler system and the booths upholstered in Louis Vuitton and Gucci leather. …

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