Friday, October 9, 2009

Rosebud’s Street Food Disappointment

I was really looking forward to Rosebud’s street food event. I love Rosebud, and I love street food, so what could go wrong? Apparently a lot. It pains me to say this (because I truly hate writing negative articles, particularly in reference to restaurants I otherwise like), but this event was a disaster for me.

First problem of the night is that we showed up relatively on time, but the meal didn’t start until nearly 45 minutes after the scheduled start because some other diners apparently though 7 pm was optional. I get that a multi-course group meal gets thrown off by late arrivals, but why should we be punished for being there on time? If I had been super late, I would have anticipated missing some courses. We at least had a addictive Asian chex mix on the table, but the natives were seriously restless by the time the first course came out.

We were seated in a very pleasant back room area, but that meant that we could neither see nor hear the chef as he introduced the courses and explained the concept of the night. So I missed everything he had to say for the night and felt a bit disconnected from it all. I would have preferred if he could have just made multiple announcements or at least moved around for each course so people in different areas could hear.

Finally, the first course came out – a pu pu platter with ribs, shrimp toast, and a potato knish. Not exactly a classic pu pu platter, but still quickly eaten by our table. Not earth shattering, mind you, just tasty (especially after the long wait!) The conceit of serving the dish in a to-go container was cute and fitting but felt a little anti-green to me. Maybe they were recyclable?


Alas, each successive course took aaaaaaaaaaaaaaages to come out. Like 30-45 minute kind of timing, and these portions weren’t huge or heavy enough to merit such long breaks. My dinner companions spent more time grumbling than savoring. The other unfortunate consequence of the glacial pacing is that we all filled up well before the end of the meal. Good for our waistlines but not so good for enjoying the whole meal we paid for. Our brains just had too much time to catch up to our digestion, so by the time the 5th course came out (more than 2 hours after the scheduled start time of the event), we barely ate it. That was a fortunate coincidence because the ramen noodle bowl did not work for me at all. Usually the broth is what makes it for me, and this hamhock-shellfish version just didn’t do it for me.

Fortunately the pommes frites, served second with sambal mayo and brown gravy, were crispy salty perfection. I just can’t say that for anything else I tried. I lurve pork buns, in a last-meal-on-death-row kind of way, so I was really excited for Mexican Coke BBQ Duck Steamed Buns. I liked the housemade bread-n-butter pickles, and I enjoyed the buns well enough, but I’d take a random dim sum pork bun any day over these. Usually the meat is super sweet and the bun buttery and wonderful, but these components were neither. Not bad, for sure, but not worth the wait.


After the ramen, it was all downhill. It was late, we were all full, and Mr. AT kept looking at his watch. We held out for the bahn mi, but then I couldn’t even venture more than a bite. I just wasn’t hungry anymore, and my first very chewy bite was a night-ender. I liked the sound of apple and fig empanadas for dessert, but we just couldn’t stomach another half hour. We weren’t the only people to leave before the end either. The woman and child at the table next to us had to call it a night even sooner than us. And let me say, I have NEVER left a multi-course meal early, so it really took some difficult circumstances to force me to do that.

The staff at Rosebud is lovely, and normally I love their restaurant. I, in fact, just had a fantastic brunch there last weekend, but this night was a HUGE let-down. It just took too long for too few standout dishes. I really didn’t taste anything that was notably better than what I’d get from an actual street vendor, and I don’t think parity was what they were going for. I’ll be back for their standard fare another time because I know I can count on that, but I left sad last night (especially sad that I broke my carb-fast and didn’t even get dessert out of the deal)



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