It all started with a rain storm. There are a few restaurants in DC that are able to keep the hype machine active while enacting a no reservations, waiting-in-line-forever policy. They rely on buzz and damn good food to keep the lines going strong. One is Bad Saint, which I had the privilege to dine at last summer until my stomach exploded. The other is Rose’s Luxury which, despite opening in October 2013, has managed to attract an undying level of demand. Apparently being the Bon Appetit new restaurant of the year and a Michelin Star restaurant makes your restaurant real popular. Luckily, there was that rain storm. On the way to happy hour with a few co-workers, one of our number suggested we take advantage of the storm and try to snag a table at Rose’s while the line was limited from the rain (props to Kate for that idea). A few of us would wait in line while the others of us (myself included) grabbed a drink around the corner at ANXO’s pop-up bar, Porrón.
Usually such a fancy pants restaurant would deserve an equally nuanced review, but the brief stopover at Porrón changed the calculus a bit. Porrón serves…porrones. Essentially a porrón is a hybrid drinking game/stupid-thing-to-drink-out-of where you pour a glass watering can of alcohol (in this case a tall IPA, gin, rosemary, and lemon mixed together) into your mouth without touching your lips or spilling, while holding the stream of liquid as far from your face as possible. Thinking that having drank out of a porrón literally one time in Vegas made me an expert, I decided to show off what I knew to my comrades. I promptly spilled all over my shirt, as a sign of what type of night I was to have (good thing I could blame the spill on the storm).
After starting my 20+ ounce drink, I realized we had about 15 minutes to get to Rose’s Luxury for dinner. Needless to say we all, but especially me, showed up a little tipsy. As such, the only appropriate way to recount the night is to narrate my stream of consciousness, with direct quotes from my phone’s notes for emphasis:
- Rose’s Luxury is too cool for me.
- We were all amazed at our luck that a table for 5 was available in the first seating. Tip o’ the hat to Kate and Mark for waiting in line and making it all possible.
- The bread at table was very necessary to soak up the gin in my gut.
- I ordered some spicy drink that gave the sensation of drying me off after running through the pouring rain several times that day.
- Sarah ordered a drink that had some sort of rosemary salt on it. According to my notes it tasted like “the most delicious field.”
- “THIS WILL BE THE BEST MEAL EVER,” I claimed, having drank much and eaten nothing but bread.
- The first dish, the lychee salad, was a religious experience. It was a combination of lychee (still don’t know what that is), sausage, peanut, and habanero. It was spicy and truly delicious. Props to Singer, our resident Rose’s expert in the office, for suggesting that we order two so there was enough to go around.
- Mark was awarded 1000 points for sticking to his Portland hipster roots and ordering a PBR at a fancy restaurant.
- I kept looking in both bowls of the lychee salad, hoping there would be more (there wasn’t). So maybe should have ordered three.
- Points to Rose’s for playing The Cure and other excellent music during dinner.
- “Corn in ramen – you sure?” I asked, before using my chopsticks upside down and spilling noodles all over the table.
- Review of the Kung Pao Tofu: “some good ass tofu.” It’s not often I find a tofu dish I feel that strongly about. I remember it came served in a cute Chinese takeout container, and that the broccoli was ridiculously fresh.
- “What is this carrot thing?” I said, continuing to interrogate my meal. It was a pastrami style carrot with sauerkraut. You can do some magical stuff with carrots if you know what you’re doing (I do not), especially if you are easily impressed by others’ cooking skills (I am).
- The special of the evening was a soft-shell crab. Mark’s review was that it tasted like the best possible version of cheap American Chinese food…but with crab. I felt really strongly at the time that it could be described in no better way, so I’ll stick with it now.
- One of the dishes was called a “blade steak.” It was tender and delicious and perfectly done like everything else we ate. I also remember the slaw that came with was the unsung hero of the plate. Just loaded up with ginger and other goodies. My notes just tell me to “make a Blade reference somehow.”
- At this point in the meal, there was just a lot of squirming with delight at how good the food was all around the table. We also paused to remark that every single dish was served on a unique plate, and that our individual sharing plates kept changing throughout the night. “1000 diff plates,” I observed, incorrectly.
- It also became really hard to keep up with how good everything was. We were next inundated with four pasta dishes (three from the menu, and one compliments of the chef!). The freebie was what I described as “Buttered Noodles from Noodles & Co x 100”. It got boring how good all the pastas were after a while.
- Once the pastas were finished, I was suddenly very pleasantly full. We ordered some sort of dessert, which I truly don’t remember. “desserttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt (it had basil I think); the best roof tile,” I helpfully jotted down for when I wrote up the review later. Apparently I liked it(?).
- Whatev get wrecked roof/plane:
- The meal ended with our server coming by and wiping the mess off our table, mostly from in front of me. I found it amusing at the time that he brushed my loose straw off the table like it was one of the other tiny crumbs on the table. Not as funny now.
Overall, despite the hazy stream of consciousness, I know one thing for sure: Rose’s Luxury is legit. And considering how many plates and drinks we ordered, also v reasonably priced for the quality. Certainly in the top tier of meals I’ve had in DC. I think if the pasta dishes had been a little more innovative, I would have been over the moon (and that’s not really a knock – they were still some damn good pastas). As such, Rose’s Luxury gets a 3.75 out of 4 om noms.