Stepping into The Rose Tap Room & Grill was like stepping back in time: Stained glass lamps, antique wooden ceiling fans, tables covered with nostalgic newspaper advertisements, kitschy neon signs and faded, autographed Cornell jerseys adorned the restaurant. My friends and I were ushered to a cozy booth with high, green, cushioned backs and as we settled into our seats, I could not help but notice the TV screens hanging around the restaurant, several of them flashing the winning numbers for the New York Lottery. Somehow, the combination of mismatched decorations and the background music of classic hits from the 70s lent The Rose a comfortable familiarity and casual charm.
To begin any dinner in proper sequence, one should start with drinks. We placed an order for a jug of mango margaritas. Five minutes later, a jug filled with enough tequila-infused cocktail for a group twice our size greeted us, more than subtly portending the portion sizes we should expect for the night. Nevertheless, we screened the extensive and diverse menu and decided that we were hungry enough to take on a whole entrée each.
At The Rose, you can get anything from classic American favorites, such as buffalo wings and burgers smothered in cheese and caramelized onions, to American-Italian pastas, an assortment of pizzas and even a Mexican-inspired fajita or burrito if that is what you desire. Our bubbly waitress took our entrée orders and was about to turn on her heels and leave when we stopped her to ask for appetizer recommendations.
“Are you sure you want an appetizer?” she responded. “I’ve got to warn you about the portions here,” she said as she eyed our petite and slender figures. In hindsight, I should have heeded her verbal warnings and taken the hint from the size of the gigantic mango margarita-filled jug. However, I am not one to turn down a challenge of any sort. Too much food? No such thing! We proceeded to place an order for garlic parmesan fries, which proved a heaping golden pile of deep fried and crispy goodness. Our dinner was definitely off to a good start.
My steak and scallops ($17.99) were served with a side of baked sweet potatoes and a hearty serving of Caesar salad — definitely not a dish for the calorie conscious. While my dish more than filled me up, it definitely left something to be desired in terms of flavor; both the scallops and steak could have benefited from a bit more seasoning. One of my fellow foodie companions ordered the Bourbon Street Burger ($8.59) — a half-pound beef patty smothered in crumbled blue cheese, topped off with a slice of grilled ham and served with a side of fat-cut fries and a Caesar salad. Unless you are opposed to eating meat, there was nothing to dislike about that delectable combination. The burger buns were perfectly buttered and toasted and the crumbly blue cheese and ham gave the otherwise bland beef patty the robust kick in flavor that it desperately needed.
Curious as to why a restaurant with no associations to Mexico whatsoever would offer Mexican food on their menu, I persuaded my other friend to order the steak fajitas. The sliced beef and peppers were served on the usual cast-iron hot plate, but lacked the tantalizing sizzle that we would normally expect. The dish was accompanied by generous servings of jack and cheddar cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce and a scoop of guacamole that probably would have constituted a meal in and of itself.
While I always try to end my meal with something sweet, there was no possible way that I could have physically put any more food down my throat that night. What happened in the next five minutes can only be described as a post-meal food coma. My friends and I sat in silence, staring at the scraps of food left on our plates. I felt all the blood in my head rush toward my stomach to aid it in the digestion of the massive meal I had just consumed, leaving me unable to do anything but take short breaths of air.
While we did not have a mind-blowing or life-changing gastronomic experience, my friends and I did leave The Rose with full stomachs (and doggy bags). What The Rose lacks in food quality, it definitely makes up for in other areas. The service staff are big on personality and friendliness and food portions are more than generous. I should also probably mention that menu prices are extremely reasonable — at a $12 average price per entrée, for the sheer amount of food we got, I would put aside my haughty and arrogant food critiquing antics, add some salt or ketchup to my steak and eat it.
Ethel Hoon can be reached at email@example.com.