Saturday, May 2, 2015

Late night pizza at Rogue on Broadway

Rogue Kitchen & WetBar on Urbanspoon
I confess I still don't understand why everyone pronounces "Rogue" as "rouge" in French since the spelling is obviously different. Yeah, there's the red "G" in it, but the spelling is still wrong, people.

Whatever you want to say about the Rogue brand, they have nice spaces. Their West Broadway location features generally bright spaces and a variety of seating styles and areas that look nicely maintained.

On Friday night I attended a free Italian Concert featuring Carlo Rotunno and Carmela D'Auria presented by the Federazione Pugliese della BC followed by a mini food fair with free samples. Afterwards we asked for recommendations for Italian food and were directed to Marcello Pizzeria or Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, both on Commercial Drive -- totally oblivious to the protest there that night.
We escaped from the Commercial Drive sardine can and wandered up to West Broadway where we tried Banana Leaf as it had a sign that said "open all day". Nope. Closed at 10.30 PM (how is that "all day" if you are not 24 hours?). Then, following Yelp and "Open Now" restaurants we tried Ebisu. But it was close to 11 PM and literally as we walked to the restaurant, they turned off the lights.
Rogue was nearby, so we just walked in with 2 hours before they closed.

2 pints of beer ($9.98)

2 virgin mojitos ($7.98)

Hand Tossed Artisan Pizza - Chewy super-thin crust Neapolitan style, but probably without the strict certification. About 15 or 16 inches in diameter, which is much better than the 11 or 12 inches you might get at a speciality Neapolitan pizza location like Famoso, and for roughly the same price. Comes with two oils at your table -- a weak chili and a strong olive oil with a large sprig of rosemary sitting inside -- and the standard issue chili flakes.

Pizza - Quebec Whaaa? ($16.99) white sauce, sliced potatoes, braised beef short rib, cheese curds, garnished with gravy, parmesan, & fresh herbs
  • Looked like just one ring of large, thin, potato slices.
  • Pulled short rib was very unevenly distributed. The gravy looked like it mostly settled around the middle. The result was, depending on which slice you got, you may have had a very different experience.
  • Overall, sounded fun but turned out boring and not very tasty.
Pizza - Funghi ($16.99) roasted mushrooms, IPA braised onions, goat cheese & roasted garlic on white sauce
  • Rather salty. Otherwise okay.
Turned out our pizzas were moderately burnt:
  • About 1/4 of the potato slices (the portion curled up off the pizza) was burnt black.
  • The mushrooms were burnt black. they started out brown, but everything facing upward was burnt and thinner slices were crispy black.
  • On the Quebec Whaaa?, the underside had large areas of burnt-to-crispy-black that was bitter enough to dominate the taste, so we tore those off. The Funghi pizza was okay.
The busser who brought it obviously didn't mention anything (surely they wouldn't have served it if they could spot that it was over-baked) so we were willing to chalk it up to "it's supposed to be that way" especially since Neapolitan pizzas are basically flash-baked. But when our server came by and we asked, she confirmed they were burnt and "not supposed to be like that". She said she'd get the manager to come sort it out but no one ever appeared (they may I suppose have gone home since it would have been midnight or after by that time). Anyway, we had been willing to let it go and by then we'd eaten about half of the pizzas, so we didn't make a fuss.

But that experience brought up the question of how much to trust the kitchen and server. I have always been under the impression that the kitchen should definitely know if they've screwed something up. And the server is the second chance at quality assurance before your food hits the table. So when my order arrives, I generally trust that if anything looks off, it's probably meant to be that way and I chalk it up to creative license -- otherwise, chefs wouldn't have any creativity at all if (for example) every instance of a particular sauce must taste exactly the same everywhere.

So our burnt-pizza experience really made me question just when to question the server and possibly send something back. And it was also disappointing that the servers didn't quality control our pizzas, especially when the busser who brought it to our table said the only pizza he hadn't yet tried was the Quebec Whaaa?
On the other hand, incidents like this also emphasize just how important it is for the server to check on diners shortly after their meals have arrived to make sure everything is okay.

Service was otherwise okay.

Curious thing to spot about Rogue: The drinks menu says something about your beer glass having something special on the bottom to release bubbles (?). Didn't spot it on our beer glass, but there was a water-level line on the glass labelled "re-order".

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