Hello, my lovely readers! It has now been three months since I moved to Washington DC. It took a second, but the area finally feels like home and I’m really happy to be here! There is always something interesting and new to do or see, without it being too overwhelming. I love the prevalence of history and culture, as well as an abundance of quaint neighborhoods (Old Town in Alexandria, Georgetown, and Capitol Hill being my current favorites) and the cool waterfront areas like The Warf and The Washington Harbor, just to name a few.
And then there is food. Unsurprisingly, I’ve tapped into the local culinary scene quite a bit and thought it’s high time I started sharing my favorite finds via the new weekly blog series – DC Bites. I’ll be writing only about the restaurants/bars that I truly think are worth my and your time, and I’ll make sure there is a variety that fits all tastes and pockets. Without further ado, let me introduce Rose’s Luxury, a restaurant that will pleasantly surprise and excite your palate. And it turned out to be a perfect spot to celebrate my 34th birthday!
The truth is, I’m probably the last person to review this restaurant. A labor of love of chef/owner Aaron Silverman, Rose’s Luxury has become a major hot-spot since it opened in Barracks Row in 2013, earning numerous accolades (named America’s “best new restaurant” by Bon Appétit magazine 2014) and a coveted Michelin star. Sentimental fact, Chef Silverman named the restaurant after his grandmother Rose, who was beloved by her family and friends for her poetry and frequent cheerful dinner parties.
Rose’s Luxury is like a breath of fresh air among other mid-range, typical American restaurants that saturate the country, with all-encompassing and very predictable menus (point in case The Chard House, Bonefish, The Smith, etc.). The vibe at Rose’s is distinctly casual and relaxed, with energetic verve filling up space the moment they open up their doors (5 pm sharp).
I fell in love with the enclosed cozy courtyard in the back that is filled with sunlight. Just like the menu, the interior here is an eclectic potpourri of textures: wooden beams, string lights, neon signs, and green plants soften otherwise industrial space framed by concrete walls, exposed brick and air ducts of the hometown it is housed in.
We nestled at the kitchen bar – if you know me, you know I love watching the behind-the-scenes whenever possible. Plus, you get a chance to see the chefs and catch a glimpse of food you haven’t ordered for future reference.
Service at Rose’s Luxury matches the atmosphere: servers are chatty, very friendly and eager to answer any questions. I like that the menu has only a few items. The idea seems to be less is more, the chef choosing to focus on a handful of dishes and making them exceptionally good. Indeed, the food is impeccably executed, inventive and most importantly delicious. The modern American cuisine comes out in small plates meant to be shared. You have an option to order a la carte or trust the chef’s choice by opting for a 10-course Luxury tasting menu. That’s what we did. It’s hard to pin down and classify food that lands in front of you at Rose’s. The over-arching theme of the menu is fusing sweet, savory and spicy flavors and layering different textures. You have hints of Southern comfort food mixed and matched with flavors of Southeast Asia, Mexico, Italy, and France.
The meal starts with a complimentary, freshly baked sourdough English muffin paired with clotted cream and citrus jam. You’d be crazy to resist the temptation, every bite was worth the calories.
The tasting started with small bites. Coconut ice-cream topped with caviar – a combination I’d never think would work let alone be tasty, but it was a superb start to the meal. A Mason jar filled with Popcorn soup followed next. Stocked with lobster bites and sweet popcorn, its broth was rich and soulful without being too heavy or unctuous. The grilled cucumber spruced up with yogurt, sumac, and anchovy, had a very addictive acidity. Although it was the highly praised lychee salad – a classic on Rose’s menu – that truly blew me off. Sliced lychee, red onion, and whipped coconut milk sit atop garlic chips, crumbled pork sausage, tropical herbs and fiery habanero. Each bite blossoms into new layers of flavors and textures from spicy to sweet to sour to smooth to crunchy. Fruity, herbal and earthy notes all marry beautifully, creating an intensely flavorful dish. If I had to pick one favorite (which is a very hard task at Roses Luxury), this would be it.
The meal continued with two types of pasta dishes. A spaghetti with strawberry and tomato sauce topped with airy ricotta was a fun rendition of the Italian classic, but this particular mix of sweet and savory didn’t work for my tastebuds. However, the next plate – delicate, hand-shaped farfalle mixed with ‘nduja (spicy Italian pork salumi), honey and shaved pecorino cheese was pure perfection.
The fried chicken that followed, with crispy flavorful batter and the meat just melting in your mouth was yet another home run and a great finish to the savory courses.
Out of curiosity, we also decided to try Spicy Happy Oysters as an add-on cause we love oysters and it looked really good. It was good, but I wouldn’t be reordering it because the spice overwhelmed the delicate fresh oyster, in my opinion. What can I say, I like my bivalves raw, slimy and unadulterated.
Rose’s Luxury is famous for its desserts. While the selection we got didn’t disappoint, it didn’t blow my socks off either. The toasted cinnamon ice-cream and malabi (the iconic Israeli milk pudding) with bergamot, hazelnut, and sumac were both tasty. Although, I got a glimpse of a foie gras atop French toast put together in the kitchen and that’s what I’m going back for next time!
Just like any other restaurant, there were plates that worked and others that didn’t. However, overall, Rose’s Luxury definitely won a place on my list of restaurants worth revisiting. I cannot wait to go back in fall to taste new additions to the menu, try other staples and reorder that heavenly lychee salad.
Dinner: Monday – Saturday served 5:00pm – 10:00pm. Closed on Sundays and some holidays.
Reservation: scoring the reservation at Rose’s Luxury can be a hassle and requires some advance planning. Please check their website for the updated rules.
Address: 717 8th Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
Access: Easily accessible via the Orange/Blue metro line (a 10-minute walk from the Eastern Market metro stop), Circulator Bus or I-395 (at 6th Street SE).
Parking: metered parking options abound on 8th Street SE in the parking lot underneath the 295 overpass.
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