after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Dinner #5 and Wine #6: Rose’s Luxury and 2014 Macdonald (Oakville)

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t says: Ok – it was date night super-XL edition. We got g’s parents to come and babysit P so we could take off for the day AND night to explore DC (and sleep without a baby monitor on!)! During the day, we took the opportunity to walk around Georgetown – an area of DC that sometimes seems “so far” away from us (we live in Noma). As we walked toured the cute shops, I was stopped in my tracks by a sign advertising some of “the best” chocolate in the world … and on the inside: chocolate chip cookies!!

Look at the height of these cookies!

Ok … $4 for a cookie is a bit insane – even by SF standards. But hear me out! I’m no stranger to making chocolate chip cookies. I value a cookie with a firm edge, a soft center, and lots of height with a sweet, fluffy, “cakey” quality juxtaposed against tons of borderline-bitter-dark chocolate. The limiting factor for me has always been the baking properties of the chocolate. While I want to bite into largest, softest chocolate chunks suspended in cookie, the larger morselscompromise the structural integrity of the cookie while baking. Now, I’ve used those fancy Valrhona fevres – they’re delicious – but I failed on numerous attempts to get the height I wanted because the chocolate would destabilize the cookies, causing them to collapse in the baking process, resulting in really wide, flat cookies. No height! So when I saw these, I was impressed by the height of the cookie. And when I finally bit into one, I was surprised at just how much soft, delicious, dark chocolate there was in there. Instantly, this cookie has catapulted itself amongst the finest from SF, including Tartine Manufactory. Also, the rest of the chocolate shop looks fantastic, right on down to the variety of single origin drinking chocolates. Definitely going there again …

So back to the main event! Dinner at Rose’s Luxury.

Dinner, Party of 2, March 2020. So we braved the in-person waitlist line at Rose’s and nabbed ourselves a dinner at the bar. (We killed time at an awesome wine shop called Decanter down the street – more later!). Before we knew, we were seated at the upstairs bar and enjoying ourselves.

(Warning: not my photo!) We brought with us a bottle of wine. Whhaaattt? That’s right -$20 corkage, baby! We had to take advantage. And given that we were without p that night, we opened up something special – 2014 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon from To Kalon vineyard in Oakville. The owners of the label, Alex and Graeme MacDonald are wonderful, down-to-earth people, a refreshing contrast to the world of high-end, snooty wineries that share the similar cult-y status that this wine possesses. Furthermore, the wine was brilliant. Already fairly open for such a young wine, it greeted us with bold, bright, violet-laden red-and-blackberry fist to the mouth, with a silky, moderate finish. While powerful, it had a minerally element that kept it lighter than a usual Napa cab – it was so slick we drank the whole bottle (we’re small, so that’s a tremendous feat!)
We started off with the cacioe pepe bread. It’s exactly what you imagine – that real deep cheesy flavor with pops of lightning black pepper on a canvas of squishy, buttery bread – so good that we can’t believe we’ve never had something like it before.
This dish was on the forgettable side. I forget what the components are, exactly, but insert a seared fish with a simple slaw (with fruit!) to provide an acidic contrast, and here it is. Moving on …
Maybe the last dish was so forgettable because it was completely overshadowed by this badass cauliflower concoction. Now at baseline, I’m only “so-so” with cauliflower. I’ve had awesomeness in the form of Zahav’s cauliflower, and a lot more lows (i.e. every time I try to cook it at home). This was amazing. There’s something about the way they ?roasted? the cauliflower and how it balanced with the sweet-and-sour golden raisin and the truffley yogurt sauce – I really can’t explain it in words because as I type it right now, it doesn’t sound good at all. Just take my word and order it.
Oh broccoli fusilli. This one is one of those “obvious” wins. Perfectly cooked pasta, broccoli, a little bit of ?jalapeno? for a subtle kick, gouda for a salty richness, and breadcrumbs for texture. It tastes as good as you would imagine. Not very surprising or avante-garde in any way – but it checked all the boxes nicely.
So up until now, we have 1 “easy” win, 1 right-out win, and 1 forgettable … Could Rose’s pull out just one more eye-opening dish to push them from a “it’s good but we’ll try someplace else next time” to a “it’s good and I can’t wait to come back?”. Well this is it. The brisket. It’s so simple. Meat. Bread. Slaw. Horse radish. But HOLY CRAP. This is one of those dishes where the chef can’t hide. There’s no fancy tweezer-dependent presentation. There’s no fancy ingredient (e.g. caviar, truffle, foie). Here’s a slab of meat – do you like it? Answer: yes. It’s quite possibly the best-cooked brisket I’ve ever had. It was incredibly tender, but not so tender that you’d forget it’s meat (because then it’d be tofu …). Incredibly well seasoned and flavorful. I ate it by itself like a steak. Yes the other parts were delicious (I mean that bread was like 95% butter – I don’t even know how it maintained it’s form as bread!) – but there was a singular star of the show!
We finished the meal with our glasses of wine and a take on banana pudding that was simple-but-effective. It reminded me of the salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo in its no-frills approach, with the total ending up being more powerful than the sum of its parts.

So where does Rose’s fit in our personal list of DC restaurants? Well, it wasn’t a flawless meal, but what really clinched it for us was the quality of the food combined with the very comfortable atmosphere. Don’t confuse that with “casual” atmosphere (although it was casual), rather, the feeling that the entire restaurant was comfortable with what it was. The servers (who were incredibly warm and accommodating), the fixtures, the ambience, – it was all part of a “package” that felt at peace with what they were trying to do: serve delicious food (with a moderate combination of novelty and “classic”) in a very normal, approachable atmosphere at a not-ridiculous price. No expense accounts. No “bros”. No power moves. Just people being normal. So we place Rose’s near the top of the list of places we’ve tried in DC. We’ll gladly try it again – it’ll be a combination of trying out a new menu and ensuring we have the time to deal with their day-of reservations policy. And of course: we’re happy they let us bring our own wine if we want!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

16 March 2020 at 10:50pm

Posted in Happenings

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