Recently, there haven’t been too many nights where Caroline and I get a chance to go out without our son, but this past Saturday happened to be one of those nights. We made dinner plans with another couple to head to the Rosewood Grill in Hudson. I had heard some good things about this restaurant that resides where Turner’s Mill used to be and was looking forward to a great night out.
I have to start off by saying that as we walked down the steps to the restaurant, there is a cool outdoor patio that has some gas burning fire pits along with outdoor furniture. It had several smokers hanging around but would most likely be a cool place to sit in the summertime. When we entered Rosewood, we were greeted by two or three people at the front desk. The restaurant was packed up- the bar was full and just about every table was occupied. One of the people asked to take our coats, another was asking my wife if she “called ahead.” I ignored the coat person to listen in on this call ahead bit. Let me explain.
Because it is a night without kids, both couples had babysitters which adds to the overall cost of the evening. Of course we tried to get a reservation so we could enjoy the night without having to mill around. We “called ahead” on Wednesday to get a reservation, but the recording at the restaurant says they don’t take reservations. As soon as my wife heard this, she hung up. Turns out if she had stuck around she would have heard the option to call up to two hours ahead of when you would like to dine. I don’t get it- isn’t calling ahead the same as making a reservation? You talk to someone, they write your name down. Sounds like a reservation to me. For a restaurant of this caliber to not have the ability to make reservations is a little ridiculous, but then to have this call ahead system is downright laughable. We were told that the wait would be an hour to an hour and a half for a table. Oh well, we headed to the bar to elbow our way into some seats.
Although I was a little aggravated about the call ahead nonsense, the bar staff was nice, quick and efficient. I ordered a Christmas Ale simply because they had it on tap and our friends ordered cocktails. Next up for me was a dirty martini, on the rocks with three blue cheese stuffed olives. They had overstuffed olives and made the martini extra dirty, which was a huge bonus for me. That drink disappeared quickly and another arrived soon thereafter without having to offer my first born to get some service from the bartenders at a packed bar. It just kinda appeared, which was absolutely perfect. High marks for their bar staff.
From the bar you can peer into the various areas of the restaurant. It’s a cool restaurant with an open kitchen and a long communal table in the bar area that is first come, first served. The dining room is well lit and decorated in earth tones that compliment the massive stone walls in this old building. I actually didn’t mind standing in the bar for a while because I could watch what was happening in the kitchen and which dishes looked good. The Executive Chef, Scott Bambic, was expediting plates which were firing out of the kitchen at a rapid clip. After just shy of an hour, we were seated at a table in the main dining room.
As we sat down, it was clear that there was an acoustic issue in the dining room. It was incredibly noisy and it probably didn’t help that we were seated in a corner. Voices were bouncing off the stone walls and wooden ceiling, which necessitates you talking more loudly for the people at your table to be able to hear.
The server arrived quickly- she was good throughout the whole meal. I didn’t catch her name because it was loud and she was a little quiet given the overall volume of the restaurant. Due to my tour of duty at the bar, I had a pretty good idea of what to order, but the menu has a lot of familiar dishes to offer and most look really good. It was certainly hard to choose from the different items, even after watching dishes come off the line. After deciding, I looked over the wine list. It was priced well with glasses from $5 to $20 and bottles from about $30 to $100. The list was well rounded and not intimidating at all. Most of the bottles would compliment the dishes they were serving on the menu- I can appreciate a well thought through wine list. There’s something for everyone on this list.
To start off, my wife ordered the fried calamari, one of our friends ordered the soup du jour, which was a potato bacon, and I ordered the spicy Carolina crab bisque. It was a cold night, so soup sounded good. The calamari showed up before the soup and looked wonderful. They included some deep fried pepperoncini rings which was a really nice touch. There were two sauces: a honey mustard and a garlic sauce with a splash of Sriracha tossed in. The calamari was perfectly fried with a nice tempura style batter. The sauces were nice individually, but once you dipped into one it was hard to move to the other- they just didn’t jive well together. I was diggin on the garlic sauce with Sriracha and everyone else liked the honey mustard. The plate was devoured before I got a chance to take a picture.
The soups arrived. Our friend’s soup was the consistency of a thin gravy and certainly had a down home flavor. The potatoes were roasted before being put into the soup which was a nice touch- it added a little texture to the potato. The good news is that our friend could easily exist on gravy so he was all smiles. Caroline and I thought it was just a bit heavy handed, but good for a spoonful.
My soup, the spicy Carolina crab bisque looked a little muddled. At first blush, it smelled pretty good. When I stuck my nose right over the soup there was an overwhelming smell of sherry, not of crab. I took my first bite and my suspicions were confirmed. This soup was so heavy handed on the sherry that it was a little odd that they served it. Made me think that perhaps the crab was a little off or something and they were trying to compensate for an overly fishy flavor. There was no spice to this dish whatsoever. Everyone had a spoonful and agreed that it was almost unpalatable. Bummer.
Up next for the main course: My friend and I ordered the bone in strip steak with tempura green beans, rosemary roasted potatoes and a house steak sauce. Caroline ordered the Lobster Ziti with cream sauce, English peas and wild forest mushrooms. The last dish, ordered by our other friend, was the center cut filet with smoked gouda mashers and braised spinach. Let’s start here- the filet was a good cut of meat and cooked to the appropriate temperature. The spinach was nice but the mashers tasted like cheddar mashers more than gouda mashers. Couldn’t detect that distinctive gouda flavor anywhere. All told, this was a good dish that was well prepared..
When the pair of giant steaks arrived at the table, we were all smiles. You don’t see many restaurants with bone in steak on the menu outside of upscale steak houses. I’ve never seen tempura green beans and they were better than I had imagined. Really exceptionally tasty and what a smart idea for a side dish. The potatoes were great as well. The problem was with the steaks. We both ordered them rare plus, which is just between rare and medium rare. The steaks were cooked to the appropriate temperatures, but it was clear they fired ours well before the rest of the dishes were complete. Mine was luke-warm and my friend’s was just about cold. The tempura was hot, the potatoes were hot- the steak, not. They took his back and I worked through mine as it was served, opting for luke warm steak rather than overcooked. When his steak returned, the potatoes and beans were charred up pretty good- it looked as though they put the whole plate under the salamander. He was happy though, so I guess it all worked out for him. The meat also wasn’t the caliber of the price tag on the dish. It was a little too sinewy and chewy on both our plates. Although he was happy they fixed the temp, he mentioned at the end of the meal that the cut was disappointing.
The biggest problem of the evening came with my wife’s Lobster Ziti. When you read that it is a ziti in cream sauce, a picture should pop up in your minds eye of well coated noodles in a light pink sauce with chunks of lobster studded throughout the dish- right? What she got was a watery brown mess on the plate. The noodles were overcooked and completely devoid of any hint of sauce. Check out the soupy consistency of the “sauce” that was delivered- it was so thin and really did not taste good. Where’s the cream and body to this sauce? What’s with the brown color and the strange flavor to the whole dish? Everyone gave this dish a shot and nobody liked it at all. There was a comment that it should be delivered with a soup spoon, but even then it isn’t edible due to the sewer pipe sized noodles. She asked for it to be boxed up thinking I would eat it the next day at lunch or something- I made sure that we left the box at the table. If it’s not edible the night of, it’s going to be terrible the next day. This dish is one to avoid if you go to Rosewood Grill.
We ended the evening with coffee all around and one chocolate “moose” for my wife. What showed up was an odd looking dessert with tuile antlers. I could tell that it would taste like refrigerator before the first bite was taken. The top had that refrigerator skin on the ridges. Sure enough, refrigerator taste is what everyone said straight off the bat without me saying anything. The consistency was nothing near what a mousse should be- it was freezing cold, dense and cloyingly sweet with a layer of crumbled Oreo cookies in the middle. Our friends said it was like a cold butter cream frosting rather than a mousse. The tuile cookies had an odd flavor as well. Two thumbs down on this dessert.
So for my wife’s birthday dinner she at least got to enjoy her calamari- one dish out of three. The rest of us enjoyed 50% of our meals straight from the kitchen. Not a great track record for the food. I was more than a little surprised by snafu’s from the kitchen. I met Chef Bambic a couple months ago at the Stow County Dessert Extravaganza and learned that he was the Executive Chef at Blue Point before moving to Rosewood. We’ve eaten at Blue Point many times, most of them while he was there and each time the food has been spot on. Makes me wonder what happened when he switched restaurants. Although the restaurant is a little noisy, by the end of the meal you are accustomed to the volume. The service is top notch including the bar staff, servers, expediters and the managers on the floor. They run a tight ship and it shows. Most likely we will come back here during off-peak hours because of the ridiculous non-reservation reservation system they have and order a more casual dinner. I’m pretty sure that for casual dining, this place would make a burger that would make a tadpole want to smack a whale. We’ll see what happens next time.