Friday, October 2, 2015

Rose's Luxury

Rose's Luxury is the newest restaurant to open along Barracks Row and has already gotten a lot of attention within the first weeks.  Chef Aaron Silverman's menu focuses around small plates and is broken down into a few straight forward categories such as cold dishes, pasta, and grilled items, with two family-style entrees also available.  Many of the dishes are either vegetarian or can be prepared as vegetarian-friendly. Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis and with this current hot buzz, expect wait times to be a little while.  Closest Metro is Eastern Market.

October 2013:  General Manager Andy Erdmann hails from the esteemed Uchi and Uchiko in Austin.  Having just returned from a trip there a couple weeks ago, we saw similarities to the menu approach at qui.  But what was very different was the more kitschy feeling with the decor, dishes, and silverware coming from a mix of Good Will collections and artist friends' contributions.  The staff was quite friendly and inviting, giving a calm "welcome to my house" type of down-to-earth feel.  I also appreciated the snarky remarks noted on the menu, which adds some personality to a traditionally sterile presentation.

We are familiar with the trendy small plates concept and, I admit, I had been eagerly stalking the menu in huge anticipation of Rose's opening for quite some time.  So needless to say, I was prepared to order a mix of items.  First, we ordered a bottle of Alsatian Riesling, which was presented table side as any other classy restaurant would.  We were presented with a complimentary fresh loaf of potato "Irish" bread with a whipped sour butter, topped with fried pieces of potato skin.  The combination of warm, soft, and crunchy, in addition to the flavors created the experience of eating a baked potato with sour cream and chives. I enjoy when my mind is tricked when eating food, making it fun and quite delicious.  Normally, we would just nibble on the free bread.  Instead, we happily finished the entire loaf.

Next, Keith ate three Malpeque Oysters that came topped with a "Dark & Stormy" granita, that tasted, well exactly like a Dark & Stormy.  The oysters themselves were plump and briny, just as Keith likes 'em.  Also, we shared a cold salad of Pork Sausage, Habanero, & Lychee.  We were instructed to stir everything together and then take a big spoonful.  We complied, and that first bite transported me to a tropical oasis with Thai flavors of coconut, peanuts, and mint balanced with sweet lychee fruit, red onions, and tender sausage.  It was a memorable dish and highlight of the evening.  Immediately after, we were presented with the renowned Popcorn Soup that had garnered so much early popularity during Chef Aaron's pop-up stint at Hogo back in March.  The rich buttery soup was very luxurious with chunks of grilled lobster.  I agree with Tom Sietsema that the dish could be a bit excessive, but I appreciated the divvied out portion (in a small glass jelly jar) that we were each presented with.  It was just the right amount decadence.

Continuing with the luxury theme, I ordered the simple pasta dish Cacio e Pepe.  I had this dish for the first time in Philly and completely fell in love.  Rose's preparation was just as classic with strong notes of black pepper and creamy cheese.  Keith thought it was too rich, especially since we just had the popcorn soup.  But I could eat bowls and bowls of this pasta.

From the warm/grilled section of the menu we ordered the Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken that came drizzled with honey and topped with benne seed, similar to sesame.  The chunks of boneless thigh meat were juicy and covered in a crunchy panko that gave a kara'age effect.  While the honey added an extra sweet note, I enjoyed this dish tremendously.  We also ordered the Crispy Octopus with a burnt lemon coating, served with fresh herbs and the ubiquitous swoosh of sauce on the plate, this time a thick black ink.  The lemon flavor really came through with the char of the octopus.  This dish was delightful and a Mediterranean staple.

Finally, Keith really wanted to try a dessert so we opted for the Vanilla Ice Cream.  Sounded simple but it came with a generous pouring of olive oil and was topped with breadcrumbs for a little salty crunch.  I love a hint of saltiness in my dessert, and this combination balanced well.  The olive oil was a bit strange, but again it all worked.  As if that wasn't enough, we were presented a plate of mint chocolate meringues that were soft and chewy.  They reminded us of the soft butter mints you get at old fashioned diners, and were a nice little touch to end the meal.

For being open only a couple weeks, I was impressed with not only the quality of food, but the finesse that Rose's has to offer.  Since reservations are not available yet, I knocked a half point for accessibility.  I hope they stay around much longer than their similar nearby (but now closed) competitor, Sūna.  I really appreciated the creativity by Chef Johnny Spero and see the same traits in Chef Aaron.  Both are thinking progressively about food culture and delivering some top notch meals in DC.  Rose's Luxury really leaves you taking their notion seriously: "eat, go home, come back tomorrow."

November 2014:  After recently being named the best restaurant in the country by Bob Appetit Magazine, it's been much more difficult to snag a table at Rose's.  Though in our neighborhood, we've avoided the long lines like the plague, and I continued to drool over new menu items in my Instagram feed.  Then, over a year later from our first visit, Keith says we need to suck it up and go!  So, thinking the day before Thanksgiving would be less crowded as most people should be out of town, we headed over around 5:45pm.  Boy, were we wrong.  The line was down the block, proving we did not have an original idea after all.  We put our name on the list and about 2½ hours later, we were seated at a little table upstairs.

Our server, Brad, gave us a friendly welcome and was courteous and timely the whole night. After all, "Rose's isn't just in the restaurant business; it's in the making-people-happy business."  We nibbled on the fresh complimentary loaf of Challah bread while perusing the menu.  We started with the Malpeque Oysters with green apple and wasabi granita.  Raw oysters are my new discovery, and these were just lovely - super fresh and briny with a hypnotizing sweet & spicy kick from the granita.

Next, Keith tried the Sliced Beef Crudo with mustard oil, sea salt and watercress.  This satisfied his beef craving a bit, since the brisket "family style" option is too much food for just one carnivore.  While he enjoyed that, I insisted we order my favorite from our first visit - the cold salad of Pork Sausage, Habanero, & Lychee.  It was just a good as I remembered, though a bit heavy-handed with the red onions.

We also shared a warm side of Charred Broccoli with Caesar dressing and white anchovies.  A tee-pee of Parmesan tuille showered with extra Parmesan shavings covered the pile of broccoli.  The anchovies provided a nice saltiness to the charred veg.  I really liked this dish, though Keith found it to be too heavily dressed.

From the pasta choices, we chose the Mezze Rigatoni with Parmesan cream and truffled breadcrumbs.  For an extra $25, one could order extra shaved white truffles on top, but we thought that was a bit excessive.  The truffle flavor still came through without the supplement, and the pasta was cooked perfectly.  I could have eaten another bowl, naturally, as pasta is my weakness.

From the heavier meat selections, we ordered the Rose's "Hot Chicken".  In its typical preparation, this Nashville recipe uses a portion of breast, thigh, or wing that has been marinated in a water-based blend of seasoning, floured, fried, and finally sauced using a paste that has been spiced with cayenne pepper. It is served atop slices of white bread with pickle chips.  Here, the chicken was topped with pickled radish, red onions, and fresh herbs that gave a slight Asian flare to the finishing.  The chicken meat itself was very spicy - like scratching the back of the throat, tongue on fire, type of spicy.

By now, I was very full.  However, we were tempted to try dessert.  The decadent offering of French Toast with foie gras and Cinnamon Toast ice cream caught our eye, and was highly vouched for by server Brad.  Can we say gluttonous?  This dish was so rich, and had I been less full, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more.  But it was just too much for me.  We were also treated to a lighter dessert of  Stracciatella - a milk-based gelato that is filled with fine, irregular chips of chocolate - served with berries.  

Overall, we had another wonderful meal at Rose's that was worth the wait.  We slightly lowered the ratings, since without reservations, the wait is still long to get in.  However, the food and price, and above all - the service - are what makes this restaurant stand out in my neighborhood.

October 2015:  Can you believe it's been 2 years since Rose's has been poppin' in my neighborhood?  To celebrate their second anniversary, I waited outside in the cold rainy and windy evening to score us a table.  About two and a half hours later, we were seated.  We spent the time waiting with some glasses of red wine at the bar, so we didn't mind as much.  Though I was very hungry by the time we were able to order.  Our server noticed, and suggested we scale back on one of our choices.  Ha!

We started with the Rock Shrimp Ceviche with crispy plantains.  The shrimp were meaty little chunks in a bright marinade with some sweet corn, crunchy radish, and cherry tomatoes.  The plantain chips were crumbled on top to add more texture.  Overall, this was a great summery dish.

Next, we ordered the staple all-time-favorite, Pork Sausage, Habanero, & Lychee.  We love it so much, that we each ordered our own.  This cold salad had a bit extra kick from the habanero, but is still irresistible.  I wonder how many orders they serve of this dish each night.

For pasta, we chose the Penne "Alla Vodka" with Squid and Basil.  Based on the simple description, I was expecting black squid ink pasta.  But instead, it was regular red sauce with squid rings on top.  Nevertheless, this pasta was cooked well, and had a nice spicy kick to it.  

Next, to acknowledge the restaurant's anniversary, they offered the Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken that was on the original menu.  Tonight would be it's one time return, so of course we ordered it.  The chunks of boneless thigh meat were juicy and covered in a crunchy panko with a light drizzle of honey and topped with benne seed.  Delicious and just as I remembered it.

 Lastly, for dessert, I picked the most summery looking item on the menu - despite the cool and wet temperatures outside.  Coconut, Lime & Kiwi sounded too good to pass up.  Delicate cubes of kiwi fruit were topped with toasted coconut flakes, coconut dust, coconut cream, and then lime zest.  The combination of flavors transported me to a beach in Miami.  It was great.

I was pleased to see the celebrity has not gone to their heads -- sure, there is still a long line to get in since no reservations are accepted ahead of time, but the system works for them.  Service was still as friendly and down-to-earth, with an inviting unpretentious atmosphere.  We were treated to homemade fig newtons with our check.  Again, a lovely gesture that makes you feel like you're dining at Grandma's.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded one Michelin star in October 2016.

Total Rating: 4.33
Food: 4.5, Price: 4.5, Service: 4.5, Ambience: 4, Accessibility; 2
What Micky Eats...

What I ate:
Pork Sausage, Habanero, & Lychee Salad

Popcorn Soup
with grilled lobster

Cacio e Pepe

Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken
with honey & benne seed

Crispy Octopus
with burnt lemon & fresh herbs

Vanilla Ice Cream
with olive oil & breadcrumbs

Malpeque Oysters
with Green Apple & Wasabi Granita

Charred Broccoli
with Caesar dressing & white anchovies

Mezze Rigatoni
with Parmesan cream & truffled breadcrumbs

Rose's "Hot Chicken"

French Toast
with foie gras & Cinnamon Toast ice cream

with berries

Rock Shrimp Ceviche
with crispy plantains

Penne "Alla Vodka" with Squid & Basil

Coconut, Lime, & Kiwi

Plus Keith ate:
Malpeque Oysters
with Dark & Stormy Granita

Sliced Beef Crudo
mustard oil, sea salt & watercress

Rose's Luxury on Urbanspoon

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