Well it certainly has been awhile since I have posted a restaurant review. Prior to my recent trip to DC, I could not tell you the last time I ate at a restaurant (outside of the Spanish restaurant where I work).
Chris and Andrew gave me the surprising treat of taking me to Rose’s Luxury for my Christmas present. Chris said he was going to get me a cookbook, but he thought I had too many now. I don’t understand this concept of “too many cookbooks,” but I certainly welcomed the opportunity to dine at such an establishment. This would be my first time visiting a Michelin Star restaurant.
Rose’s Luxury is located on Capitol Hill near Eastern Market. They are only open for dinner and until recently did not take any reservations. The Michelin Guide has only recently starting reviewing DC, so only a few DC restaurants have earned any stars. Opened in 2013, Rose’s earned a Michelin star in 2017. (As a side note, they have not reviewed Boston at all, so there are zero Michelin Star restaurants in Boston, despite some great contenders).
Rose’s is the hot spot on Capitol Hill. Since they do not take reservations, people line up outside the restaurant an hour prior to opening in order to get a chance to dine there. Yes, I was one of those people. Chris and Andrew both had work that day. I spent most of the day at their house doing some prep for our big New Year’s Eve party, so I was in the best position to grab a spot in line.
Being the early bird that I am, I was the third person in line, arriving shortly before 4 pm. I didn’t mind waiting though, because I had my One Direction playlist to keep me company. (Yes, I am a Directioner). I listened to my music while waiting for the guys to get off work.
When the restaurant opens, you have the option to dine now or pick a time for later. Our hungry stomachs chose to dine immediately. We got a lovely table by the front window and started with a round of cocktails. Unsurprisingly, I chose the tequila cocktail, and it was delightful. We were also served some savory monkey bread.
If the monkey bread was a sign of what was to come, I felt I would leave quite happy. I know I’m not remotely qualified to review the food at a place like this, but I am going to try anyway.
Rose’s Luxury serves small plates. The menu is relatively short, but there are some awesome dishes to chose. The first category is ‘greatest hits.’ From that we chose, the crispy cauliflower with golden raisins, white truffle, and greek yogurt. This whole head of cauliflower quickly disappeared from out table. The way this cauliflower was fried was quite impressive. I loved the texture of the cauliflower, and the yogurt brought a lovely touch of acid to the dish.
From the general small plates category, we chose the lychee salad and the grilled island chicken. The lychee salad is Rose’s signature dish. It is the only item that has never left their menu. This beautifully composed salad has lychee, pork sausage, habanero, red onion, peanuts, and herbs. There was a spice mixture intended as garnish, which we asked for on the side since it includes sesame seeds. After being presented with the salad, we were asked to mix it all together. This salad was bursting with texture and flavor. We seriously considered getting another one, because it was just that good, but we filled up on too many other good things. I would go back just for this salad though.
The grilled island chicken thighs were served with a peppajoy sauce and piña colada sauce on the side. I did not find the chicken to be very spicy, but it was flavorful…so very flavorful. Bone-in chicken thighs are not the easiest item to share, but the trio who has been known to pass each other’s sandwiches by hand to share, we will always find a way. The chicken thighs were tender and juicy. I am glad that they chose to use thigh meat for this dish, as they are far more flavorful.
We then moved onto pastas. We settled on two of the three pastas, but they decided to give us the third on the house. I guess we passed the threshold of spending. Even though this was just a ploy by the waiter to get a better tip (which worked), we were happy. All three pastas were delicious.
The first pasta was ‘nduja strozzapreti with honey and pecorino. If you haven’t yet come across this fad food, nduja is a spicy, spreadable sausage that originates from the Calabria region of Italy. The flavor and texture of this dish was unlike anything I’ve ever tried in a pasta. We all agreed that this was our favorite of the three pastas because it was so unique.
The next pasta was lumaconi alla norma with eggplant, anchovy, and mint. I enjoyed the sauce of this pasta. While I love to try new things, my heart loves a good tomato-based pasta sauce. I am also a big eggplant fan, so I found this pasta to be delightful.
For the bonus pasta, we had whole wheat reginetti with mustard greens and baby kale, which can be found on the “greatest hits” category. This pasta had a creamy sauce, but I had trouble identifying the flavor of the sauce. Honestly, I found the sauce to be a bit bland, which was maybe why this pasta was drowned in freshly grated cheese. I love cheese on pasta, but I would recommend focusing more on developing a sauce that can hold up to the beautiful, fresh ingredients in this pasta dish. I did enjoy the texture of this pasta, and it was a fun shape. All of the pasta used were fun shapes that you won’t find every day.
Finally, we ordered the family style salt and pepper catfish served with caviar tartar sauce, pickled melon rind and hush puppies. Each element of this dish was fantastic. The fish was crispy and juicy. The coating as well as the fish was well-seasoned. I get so disappointed with the breading on fried protein is not seasoned, but this fish was wonderfully peppery with the perfect amount of salt. The hush puppies were warm and fluffy on the inside. Both fried items paired perfectly with the tartar sauce. The biggest surprise of the day was the pickled watermelon rind. The sharpness of the brine balanced out with the sweetness of the fruit. We left wondering how we could replicate the pickling.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with Rose’s. I can see how they have received their Michelin Star. Some of the dishes like the lychee salad and nduja pasta showed creativity and finesse. Even common dishes like the fried catfish were great because of the flawless execution.
I found the decor of the restaurant to be welcoming and relaxing. Rose’s does not give off the aura of a stuffy, pretentious, fancy restaurant. This is a place you could be walking by and decide to grab a place in line regardless of what you were doing or wearing. The staff is very friendly, and the food is great.
However, there were a few plating choices I found odd. They plated the grilled chicken in a plastic basket lined with checkered paper (like you would find in an old burger joint). Then, when it came to the fried catfish, which may have been better suited for the plastic basket, they plated it on ceramic plates that were made to look like paper plates. We found this to be a bit tacky. I actually didn’t find either of those plating choices to fit the aesthetic of the restaurant, but the fake paper plates felt the most out of place.
Still, we had the greatest time, and I greatly appreciated my gift. I am so very grateful for my relationship with these two. They are my family, and moving to New England has done nothing to change that.