I like to pretend that one day, when money is no object, I would have a restaurant. My restaurant would feel like I opened my front door, invited you to sit down and the food (and drink) magic would begin. There would be a bit of mystery, because I wouldn’t tell you what you are going to dine on, but based on the decor, you would know you were in for something different. My restaurant would be like Rose’s Luxury. I’ve wanted to dine at Rose’s Luxury for quite a while. It’s been very hyped up (here, here, here… you get the point), and with a no reservation policy, it requires waiting in line for a table. So over July 4th weekend, when most of DC heads to the beach, we headed to Rose’s Luxury. We arrived about 15 minutes after the doors opened. We didn’t really want to eat dinner at 5:30, but we also wanted to eat dinner at some point that evening. We hedged our bets and figured we’d either be “offered” the second seating, or, we’d give up our table and take the second seating. Luckily, that evening, there were enough people in front of us that we didn’t need to make a decision, we were getting a table an hour and a half later. Local tip: Zest Bistro is about a block away, and offers Saturday (!) happy hour. We chilled there while we waited for the text from Rose’s that our table was ready. Three glasses of wine and an appetizer later, we got that text. The hostess brought us to our table. Ordinarily, I’m all about a table experience where I can glance lovingly across the table at my husband. So when the hostess walked us to a bar style setting area, I almost said something. And then I looked up and realized we were being seated at the kitchen bar, which is basically like sitting in the dugout of a baseball game. Loving glances can wait, I’m in the kitchen action.
Dinner at this point turned into a show for me. I watched every plate come out, I watched the symphony the cooks performed, I craved the dishes we hadn’t ordered and secretly wished we showed up with a party of 12 so we could try all of the things. Beyond the kitchen was the decor. Fun, whimsical, and kind of like an adult treasure hunt. In the bathroom, someone had apparently put a hole in the wall; so, Roses did what any restaurant would do: they put a sign over it stating “someone put a hole in the wall so we had to put something here.” I was seated next to this sign:
Mind you, all this has happened before food or drink. Let’s talk about drink. Based on the menu, I knew I had to try a cocktail. Our server made a (fantastic) recommendation — Peachy Keen!. It was served in a glass that I’m fairly certain would have come out of my grandmothers china cabinet. It made me miss my Nanny and made me want to pull my crystal out of storage ASAP. Fancy cocktails in fancy antique glasses suits me.
While the cocktails were enjoyed, the bread basket arrived. And I stuck my face in the butter. Ok, not totally true, but the ash on the butter? Spoonable. Ash means burned, but this was the opposite. It was sweet, salty, and just smoky enough to know it was “burned” but not blackened. Let’s get a quart of that daily for the rest of my life.
Food time. We asked the server to help us pick between a few items and finally settled on six dishes.
First up was Johan crab claws with pickled ramp and chive mayo. The crab claws had a great sea flavor and the mayo complimented the dish nicely. Not my favorite dish of the evening, but good.
Next up was a dish I had read about in a number of reviews, the pork sausage, habanero and lychee salad. The dish comes out very nicely composed, and you’re encouraged to mash everything together.
The result was not so pretty, but the flavors in this are amazing. The lychees have a sweet, somewhat tart pop in your mouth. The pork sausage is salty. The red onions add a slight bitterness. This is umami at its best. This dish was in my top three, for sure.
The next dish to come out was a grilled asparagus with pineapple aioli, fried jalapenos and chive oil. I would have never thought to combine pineapple and asparagus, but the combination is surprisingly delicious. Top three on this dish too.
Next up was a jerk chicken with pickled mango raita and green papaya salad. I hadn’t had jerk chicken since our honeymoon in Jamaica. This dish took me back there on the first bite. It was so good, and so similar to the chicken we enjoyed beachside in Bluefields, I nearly cried. I gave the waitress my singing endorsement on this dish. Hands down, number one.
I really could have stopped at this point and ordered another jerk chicken, but we still had a bit more variety coming. This dish was a crispy squid salad, avocado, crema, lime and radishes. It was pretty much like a gourmet version of fried calamari. The lime was a nice surprise, and the radishes (and I think jicama) gave the dish a good freshness.
At this point, both of our pants were feeling tighter than was comfortable. We were full and still had one more dish to go. Except our server decided to surprise us with an extra course — the gnocchi with black pepper and parmesan. We had debated between two pasta dishes and she was sweet enough to order both for us, on the house. These little pillows of yum were exactly what you expect from gnocchi: soft, cloud like, and dripping with butter and cheese.
The final dish of the evening (dessert wasn’t a consideration at this point, we were legit stuffed). This is another dish I had read about in several reviews, the strawberry-tomato pasta with ricotta, red onion and black pepper. The pasta had a definite heat to it, but the heat was made more palatable by the sweetness of the strawberries. It was an interesting combination. I’m not sure if I would order it again, but then again I was so full at this point, the thought of eating anything made my pants want to split.
We loved the experience, the service was top notch, and at $124 for food and drinks, the prices were definitely fair. If you visit DC, or live here and haven’t been, I highly recommend enjoying a meal at Rose’s Luxury.