Its name sets the tone for your evening: luxurious, yes, but in a home-y way. Service at Rose’s Luxury near Eastern Market is warm and welcoming, and the menu balances inventiveness with comforting touches. Apparently everyone agrees, because weekends here are packed. With no reservations, the best way to plan your visit is to arrive a couple of hours before you’ll be hungry, put your name down, then settle in for some drinks at a nearby bar (or upstairs if you can get a seat). Planned right, a leisurely built-in cocktail hour just adds to the indulgent feel of the evening.
Following this formula, we found ourselves seated with a view of the kitchen last Saturday night. A loaf of complementary brioche with – butter? sour cream? Something in between? arrived on old-fashioned china sprinkled with my new favorite topping: crispy bits of golden brown potato skins. The bread itself was fluffy and chewy and the perfect holdover after drinks at Beuchert’s.
Items on the menu that are or can be made vegetarian are helpfully marked in green. After some discussion with our server, we chose dishes that were vegetarian to begin with – burnt romaine, caramelized cauliflower, fennel gnocchi, and strawberry pasta. Although the popular lychee salad can be made with vegetarian sausage, we were warned that it doesn’t live up to the original.
Crisp black and green romaine hearts were served with avocado, tangy cotija cheese, poblano for a kick, and a green goddess-type dressing. Who knew charred lettuce could be so good?
The only dish that was slightly disappointing was caramelized cauliflower. Although every nook and cranny was deep brown and crunchy, the overall effect with Greek yogurt and a hint of something sweet left us wishing for more flavor.
Fennel-stuffed gnocchi was a lot more like a ravioli than traditional potato dumplings. It was surprisingly light and fresh, with fennel flavor coming from the filling and snips of fennel greens in the lemon mint sauce. Some things shouldn’t be shared, and this gnocchi makes the list. Get your own.
Strawberry pasta was surprising as well – bouncy al dente spaghetti swathed in a sauce of strawberries, red onions, and olive oil, topped with ricotta. The effect was strikingly similar in look and taste to a tomato marinara, with just enough berry sweetness among comforting savory flavors to keep us interested.
Despite the packed house, both our service and our food were of impressively high quality. Our server’s attention made us (and all of his diners, we suspect) feel special. Every dish was executed beautifully, also clearly given special care in the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen, our view provided us with even more incentive to come back: watching pasta swirl around in skillets of rich golden cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) sauce. Next time. Along with dessert!
717 8th St SE