Rose Water- North Slope
- Alan Emdin
At my dentist Friday, I glanced at NY Magazine and saw a small review of a new restaurant at Union Street, just west of 6th Ave. Shouldn't some North Slope Chowhound have spotted this sooner? Anyway, Saturday I ate there.
The chef is formerly of Oznut's Dish, and the food is similar. It ranges the mediterranean from Italy through Morocco. There is also some Latin influence around. Appetizers about $6-8, entrees $14-17. Everything was quite good. There is a nice little winelist, or $10 corkage. They don't take reservations.
While I haven't eaten there yet, I have doubts as to it's longevity regardless of the quality of the food. I've lived on that block for the last 10 years and Rose Water will be the 4th restaurant to occupy that space in that time (Old Stones Cafe, a Jamaican place, Henriettas' Vegetarian, and now Rose Water). The problem is that the space is tiny with room for just 5 or 6 tables (plus 3 or 4 outside that are unusable for half the year). The fixed costs (rent,kitchen and wait staff) just can't be supported by the limited customer base.
The rennovations took an amazingly long 3 or 4 months and the results are attractive but unremarkable. They have chosen not to put a sign on the place, a move which is a more than a little precious for the Slope - I think the owners view it as more of a private club than a restaurant. The menu choices are small but interesting but I wonder whether they can really keep a 6 table restaurant alive in the Slope by charging $20 for pork chops.
Gone in 12 months.
In a party of 4, we shared a meze plate, which was quite good. My entree was oxtail, served with yucca (the aftermentioned "Latin" influence). Others had sliced steak with cloves, skate and (Nieman ranch) porkchop. Each of us is a pretty widely experienced foody, and each of us really liked our food. we also shared a dessert of cake with rosewater icing and peach icecream. The only flaw of the night was that the peach garnish was not ripe.
Just try it for yourself before Eric Asimov writes it up.
re: Bob Martinez
a note from one of the two owners of rose water.
it's a thrill to read the impressions and comments about our young restaurant and to be able to respond. so, if i may;
~we've made friends with many of our union st./p slope neighbors over these many months and hope to make your acquaintance, too. we want nothing more than to be thought of as a solid neighborhood restaurant.
~there is a sign in the front door and, because we like to prop the door open, the sign is often invisible to passersby. not by design. we're working on it. "private club" is the furthest thing from our minds.
~we have eleven tables indoors, not six, and another seven, or so, outside. we hope that if our neighbors enjoy what we're doing, that we'll be able to pay the rent.
~the pork chop costs $16.50, not $20.
~we just wanna be good, not precious. hope you stop by for eats (and the view inside) and find it agreeable.
re: John T.
Sorry about the errors on the # of tables and the prices. I sincerely wish you success. We need more good restaurants in the neighborhood.
I walked past your place Saturday night about 11:30PM and saw you had a full house of happy people. I also heard a departing (satisfied) couple voice some anxiety about the economics of the relatively small number of tables so i guess I'm not alone on that score.
I hope you overcome that problem and I wish you good luck.
We tried Rosewater over the weekend. Excellent cheese plate (available as an appetizer or dessert) with 3 cheeses, grapes, pears and pistachios. The steak with peppers and clove marinade was heavenly. Great salad (slightly marred by a bit of grit) with beets. Service was relaxed and friendly and the room felt cozy without being cramped. I'm very happy to have them in the neighborhood!
We ate there over this past weekend...I'd give it a mixed review. The food was quite good. Service and overall management is rough and shows what I'd guess is a lack of experience.
We ate: steak, pork chops, gnochi. Yum all around. The basket of breads before dinner was great...interesting assortment of several breads, all rare and unusual varieties. Desserts were just fine...the safron ice cream was tasted by everyone and deemed "interesting."
The wine list is small but decent, with most of the bottles in the high 20, low to mid 30 dollar range. Interesting mix of French, Calif., and Italian, mostly.
On to the problems. First, they don't take reservations...or do they? When we showed up with a party of six (early, at only 6 pm on a Saturday), we got eye-rolling, sighs, and comments along the lines of "why didn't you call ahead?"
Once we did get seated, life improved a bit. We had to ask a few times to get anyone to serve us a pre-dinner drink.
In general, the staff tried to be friendly, but they were not quite sharp or professional. And when the place filled up, as it did, one had the sense that they were overwhelmed...struggling to keep up...and the veneer of friendliness did in a few instances slip away. These are hard things to quantify, but if you eat out a lot, you certainly feel them.
Would we go back? I'd probably give it another try in a month or two...maybe on a weeknight...and see if the staff had caught up with the kitchen.