Wednesday, April 6, 2011


one of david bailey's three wildly successful restaurants, rooster serves up crepes and sandwiches to hungry downtown 9-to-5ers. located just a block from bridge, rooster is the early-day counterpoint to bridge's late-day appeal. unfortunately, your humble narrators, staunch suburbanites we be, have had mixed results at rooster. still, we wanted to provide a report for our readers, so we decided to give rooster another shot.


rooster's decor is vibrant but not frenetic, conducive more to chill-out sessions with friends than the pound-and-go rituals of manhattanites.  if you are in a hurry, there's a bar for speedier service; in our experience, though, most folks choose to sit in the dining area, lingering over coffee and conversation.  we were fortunate to perch at one of the window tables this visit, which provided us with a lovely view of the locust street foot traffic.

in the spirit of unbiased reviews, we have to tell you that our experience with service at rooster has worn us out.  on our first visit, we were so neglected that after 30 minutes of no service, we were forced to leave for friendlier confines (we chose schlafly).  another time, service was great until the order was taken, but then we received no service at all and had to go to the bar to pay.  on this visit, though, service was terrific the entire time.  our waiter provided answers to our vegetarian-specific questions, enthusiastically gave us directions to bridge, and generally made us feel very welcome.  we're not sure which of these experiences best represents rooster, but our guts tell us service is more often like our most recent visit.  always listen to your guts, people.

the point, really, is this: we're willing to endure virtually all manner of server jackassery if the food is exceptional enough.  as with the service, rooster's food has also been hit or miss.  for the purposes of this review, we'll just report on how good the food was on our most recent trip.  if you've been reading our recon reports the last month or so, you know we've been on a sort of breakfast bonanza.  lois has always been a big proponent of breakfast foods, with clark only recently warming to the brilliance of eggs (thanks to the local harvest slinger).  point is, we've had some amazing breakfast dishes recently--from northstar (in columbus) to sweetart to local harvest--so we feel relatively qualified for a review of rooster.

our primary objective was to sample rooster's veggie burger, but we started with a vegetarian breakfast scramble.  similar to a slinger (sans chili and cheese), the scramble comes with mad veggies--zuchini, roasted tomatoes, red onion, spinach, garlic, and mushrooms--and is served over a bed of roasted potatoes.  we're particularly fond of the fact that rooster serves the veggie scramble without cheese; it's a choice that made us feel ever so slightly less guilty about the eggy cholesterol.  overall, though, we weren't as impressed with rooster's plate of eggs as we were with any of our recently reviewed restaurants.  (have we mentioned how good the slinger is at local harvest???)

out of respect for lois's addiction to affinity for all things breakfast, we opted for a savory crepe.  based on the server's recommendation, we went with the goat cheese crepe, which came filled with wild mushrooms, basil, and oven-dried tomatoes.  the crepe casing was quite nice, really, and the ingredients complemented each other well enough. however, there seemed to be a shortage of ingredients, and we were left wondering what our 8 bucks were paying for. again, we felt the food was competent but not exceptional.  

fortunately, the veggie burger didn't disappoint.  rooster provides a vegan version if you substitute their toasted bread for focaccia, and we gratefully accepted the vegan option.  again, we give props to rooster for designing yet another menu item without dairy, particularly considering how many restaurants in the area bog down their ingredients with copious amounts of cheese.  there's a time and place for indulging in cheese, no doubt; we just think rooster should be commended for eschewing dairy on items where you least expect it: eggs and veggie burgers.  very cool.  the burger patty had a nice crunch, and we loved all the black beans scattered throughout.  the addition of guacamole as a substitute for cheese was also much appreciated.  the tangy, nutty guac provided more than enough flavor to make you forget about cheese for a while.  the focaccia, too, was good (somehow buttery despite being vegan), but we felt it was perhaps a bit too much bun for such a mild-flavored patty.

even though we weren't overwhelmed by the food, we'd certainly consider going back, and we have no reservations in recommending rooster if you're downtown and in need of sustenance.  combine rooster's vegetarian-friendly menu (over 20 items!) with their commitment to local produce and dairy, and there's very good reason to celebrate.


vegetarian-friendly score:
Rooster on Urbanspoon

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