This weekend we finally had the chance to visit Roseville and had an overall very disappointing evening.
There were some impressive cars in their parking lot – Ferrari, Bentley, Jaguar, high-end Mercedes etc. which was evidence for an interesting mix of people in the restaurant. The first impression of the ambience when you come into the restaurant is quite good and we got a nice semi-private booth. Unfortunately that’s when the good part of the evening stopped. As we experienced throughout the evening Roseville is one of the restaurants were the dishes look very interesting written on the menu but what comes out of the kitchen is very disappointing especially for these prices. As starters we had the asparagus salad with truffle vinaigrette, watercress, egg and pancetta which was not bad even though the asparagus was too cold and the overall flavor would have benefited if it would have been warmer. The second starter were the ricotta gnudi which were very dense, dry and disappointing and for $14 one would expect more than three gnudi (smaller than a teaspoon) and some average sides like shitake etc. As entrees we choose the salmon and braised pork cheeks and they clearly showed what is lacking at Roseville – It is not enough to put just a big piece of protein on the plate and don’t care about the sides if you want to be a serious restaurant. And if a restaurant decides to go this way they should better make sure that their protein part of the dishes is outstanding and beyond any critiscm. The salmon was overcooked and came out colder than it should be. The sides were about a spoonfull of lentils and some small amount of apple-parsnip (?) mash – for $30 absolutely overpriced. The braised pork cheeks were surpringly tasteless and needed some salt. The braised greens were again tasteless and not more than a tablespoon. The white polenta was the best part of the dish. The desserts were an apple-berry crisp which was OK but nothing special whereas the second dessert – chocolate cake with chocolate mousse was very dense and was accompanied by a blackberry sorbet which instead of being smooth had very large ice crystals as evidence of bad storage. Somehow it wasn’t really surprising at that night that Roseville only had drip coffee and no cappucchino, espresso or french press.
Another great disappointment at Roseville was the service or better the lack of. I doubt we have ever seen a more impersonal, cold and uninterested waitress in SD before. For example Roseville has a papilotte du jour on their menu but she wasn’t interested to tell us anything about. In general Roseville has a serious problem with the service personal. We had a booth close to the entrance to the kitchen and we have never seen so many waiters and busboys in a restaurant standing around and talking to each other and being just bored. A good organized restaurant could work with half of better trained waiters and could thereby lower their prices to a reasonable level.
I could be very cynical and use a cliche by saying that the restaurant is something you would expect by the expensive cars outside – something for rich people who don’t care if they pay too high prices (the quite short wine list has some wines for up to $3000) for average food at best as long it is a hip place were they could see their buddies. Unfortunately the booth next to us proofed that it is not only a cliché as they got louder and louder throughout the evening and half of the restaurant could listened to what they are talking. They seemed to know the owner (?) who visited them several time in their booth but didn’t seem to care about the noise which made it difficult for others to talk to each other.
Overall Roseville was one big disappointment and there are many restaurant now in SD which serve much better food for a much better price.
We also tried Roseville for the first time this weekend on Friday night and had a couple of the same dishes. All I can say is Wow! We must be living in a parallel universe! Our evening was really lovely and we intend to put Roseville in regular rotation.
My husband began with the puree of rutabaga soup which was topped with a generous amount of brown butter-sage froth. It was a beautiful serving of delicate, yet earthy comfort on the first chilly evening in our San Diego autumn and immediately produced the usual response to me from Chuck: "Can you knock this off?" The asparagus and egg salad was a wonderful take on the old classic. Pencil thin asparagus topped with perfectly dressed watercress, a warm, sunny-side-up egg and sprinkled with crunchy pancetta lardon. The truffle vinaigrette was the perfect foil to the rich egg yolk that came bursting out on cue from a fork prick. The crispy lardon and ruffle of frisee were nice textural contrasts, but I do wish the lardon were a tad larger. We stuck with the comfort quotient with the braised berkshire pork cheeks served with polenta and vegetable ragout. Our serving was the perfect trifecta of tender pork, vegetable and creamy polenta to soak up the braising broth. Was it a dish that had bright spots in it's flavor profile, not really...but that is not the effect you are going for when ordering a braised comfort dish. Now let's get to the orecchiette and cheese gratin - this dish is campaigning hard for our vote of best mac-n-cheese in the city. The orecchiette were perfectly cooked, al dente, bite-sized goodness. The crispy, browned crumb crust topping gave way to decadent humboldt fog creaminess with each dive of our forks. I asked myself this time if I could knock this off at home. Yes, of course, but I would rather return to Roseville to savor it again. We also ended with the "chocolate and blackberries". The chocolate was very rich and dense, drizzled with blackberry sauce and a scoop of blackberry sorbet. Architectural presentation and the perfect contrast of flavors between the fudgy chocolate and the acidic blackberry, they used a very light hand in sweetening this dish, letting the natural flavors shine through.
Roseville is a lovely brasserie type setting in rich gold and bronze tones and the banquettes are emphasized with various shaped, luxurious, tapestry pillows. We found the prices reasonable for the portion size and ingredients used (we did not try the gnuddi - that does sound a bit out there). Everything we sampled was perfectly seasoned, though I did have to ask for salt and pepper for the asparagus/egg salad just because I really like a heavily seasoned yolk. Our server was one of the best we have encountered in San Diego in awhile. She was upbeat, pleasant and helpful with impeccable timing. I can see how the wine list could be a problem for the oenphiles, it is especially limited by the glass. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and would recommend Roseville to any of our foodie friends. It is a lovely little jewel with an adult setting that is too far and few between in SD. My only gripe was with a couple of the patrons, not the restaurant or its employees. I know this is San Diego, but come on - dirty flip flops in this kind of setting? And to the gentleman that was seated towards the end of the evening, I would ask you change out of your SD Yacht Club shorts into some big boy pants in a fine dining establishment! I would urge Honkman to give it another try as we need to nurture and support these kinds of establishments in our town, especially given the trying economic times.
"Was it a dish that had bright spots in it's flavor profile, not really...but that is not the effect you are going for when ordering a braised comfort dish."
- Couldn't disagree more on this regarding braised dishes. Really good braised dishes can have wonderful bright spots in their falvor profile and a lot of depth. Something the dish at Roseville complete lacked.
"I would urge Honkman to give it another try as we need to nurture and support these kinds of establishments in our town, especially given the trying economic times."
- The experience was so disappointing and the quality of the meals so low for that price that I think there are many, many other estabilshments in SD which deserve it more to be supported.
I am always in awe of spending that much money for a dinner however fantastic it might be. Due to the current economic misfortunes which are having an impact on me personally, I am bringing my lunch to work more often and when I do go out I look for the $5 and under places (not easy).
As with any discussion about any restaurants - this just reflects mine and my wifes opinion about Roseville. As you can see on CH there is really no agreement which restaurants are good or not (which is good otherwise we wouldn't have anyhting to discuss). Everybody should read such reviews to get a first idea but always try to also go to any restaurant to have an own experience. Such reviews just might help you (at least for us) to give a rough rank order when to test a restaurant.