Monday, June 16, 2014

Nervous service at The Roof

The Roof on UrbanspoonMy friend actually walked out on our dinner because "The Roof" wasn't actually on a roof. It's more like the penthouse suite and it's definitely not open air.
And honestly, not much of a view, either. You get to see old office buildings and (at the moment, anyway) half-built skyscrapers that will eventually block off what view of the water remains. Not the view of the water was all that great to begin with.
Want a view? Try an actual waterfront restaurant.
As for my friend, I guess she was spoiled by the actual rooftop "Roof" lounge/bar/restaurant atop Black + Blue. Which has even less of any view of anything plus a seating arrangement that isn't particularly geared toward looking outward.

The lobby and room are nice, though. It's bright and spacious and high-ceilinged. Even the table spacing is generous. There are different zones for different types of patrons, from sit-down dining to sports bar. Also a needs-tuning piano and jazz musicians on the night we dropped by for dinner.

Our dinner reservation was for 7.30pm on Friday. The place was busy but not packed. Staff had a mix of ESL and nervous/unseasoned persons. Overall, I felt service was sincere, but not as smooth/polished as it could be. Various allowances can be made here -- for example, as a hotel with an undoubtedly international clientele, a mix of available languages among the staff might take a higher priority than having the most seasoned hostesses and servers.

For larger reservations (8+), call ahead and get all the details. Larger tables (over 8?) use a more limited set menu. If you want the full menu (and you really do), you could maybe be sneaky and split your party into two tables, assuming you don't mind seating apart and being served at different times.
Vegetarians should also definitely look at the menus online for The Roof because the choices are frankly pathetic. Vegans might as well just give up and go somewhere else.
That said, there weren't any missteps with the food. Composition, taste, presentation -- all excellent, if conservative. This is safe food (nothing fancy or adventurously fusion), and expertly put together.

Bread rolls and butter (free)
  • A very nice old-school touch. You hardly see this anymore.
  • Another very nice old-school touch: Before the mains come out, they comb your table of crumbs. I don't remember seeing that since The William Tell.
Honey Truffle Roasted Baby Turnips ($12) golden beets & Brussels sprouts
  • I'd gone with the Georgia Straight article recommendation on this one and it turned out just OK.
  • The use of honey to sweeten the veggies here was quite nice. Just remember to scoop the rather watery sauce onto each bite, especially after you've cut the whole beet / turnip.
  • If you're normally turned off Brussels sprouts because they are bitter, the honey here really tempers that, making them "safe" to eat.
  • As sharing plates go, this one is good for two to three persons as an appy.
Boston Bibb Wedge ($12) farmhouse blue cheese, crisp lomo ham, preserved tomato, blue cheese ranch
  • A small head of lettuce cut into quarters and drizzled with the items listed. With so much of it being lettuce, this is a fairly safe choice for weight watchers. As the dietician at our table informed, lettuce is basically water.
  • I normally don't like blue cheese but thought I'd give this a go anyway. Turned out not too badly -- There wasn't so much blue cheese that I got turned off.
  • The thin slices of ham (looked like prosciutto) could have been shredded for convenience, but maybe they wanted you to eat them separately.
  • Overall pretty decent for a salad and not bad for $12.
Canadian Lobster ($19) baby artichoke & parmesan gratin
  • I wanted to order this, but our server actually warned me against it. It is apparently meant very specifically as a sharing item. He went so far as to ask another patron to give me her impressions of it, as she had ordered it for herself and her dining partner.
  • The intelligence I gathered was that most of this is very rich and creamy and thick sauce, similar to a spinach and artichoke dip, emphasis on the heavy richness which could overwhelm someone having it as their meal. As far as the quantity of lobster went, it was apparently "not that much", shredded and sprinkled through.
  • I ended up not ordering it, but if your server doesn't give you the heads up, it's probably best to have a couple of friends ready to help you out, just in case.
Meyer Lemon Tart ($10) with charred meringue, raspberry fluid gel
  • Very nicely done lemon tart. A bit steep at $10, but a very nice way to end your meal.
  • There's some tang from the lemon, but not so much sourness to make you cringe. And sweet, but not overly so.
  • If you're taking pictures, make sure the gold flakes show up.

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