As a food writer, restaurant lover and nightlife enthusiast, I eat out a lot. As much as I love the feeling of walking into a new restaurant for the first time, I also enjoy recurring visits to some of my favorite places in the city. When I returned to Rosewood a couple of weeks ago to try the new menu and meet the new chef, I asked myself once again, why am I not here more often?
Ever since the Rock-n-Roll infused restaurant opened a couple of years ago I’ve been going on a recurring basis to see how the restaurant’s menu has evolved. Rosewood opened at the tail end of Montreal’s high-end burger craze and offered Montrealers great burgers with a side of live music most nights of the week. Music has always been in the DNA of what Rosewood is and that has helped the restaurant set itself apart from the rest. Although we now lament the closure of many of the restaurants that topped burgers with everything from foie gras to truffles, we can be equally happy that the surviving restaurants, like Rosewood, had the foresight to shake things up and offer us something different.
During our visit last week we were introduced to the restaurant’s new chef, Colin Griffin while trying a few of the dishes he’s concocted for the new menu. Coming to Rosewood with an impressive background, Colin’s experience in some of Montreal’s most infamous kitchens has added a depth to the restaurant that we didn’t know we were missing. Rosewood remains an excellent venue for those looking to listen to live music while enjoying dinner. It’s the dinner that’s been taken to a whole new level.
We started our meal with a delicious seafood pizza topped with shrimp, a sweet tomato sauce and a heap of fresh arugula. The sauce, while sweet, had savoury notes that were complemented wonderfully by a thin, crisp pizza crust. It was a great start to the meal. We followed the pizza with a selection of items that we shared as a table. I was there with Caroline from The Everyday Luxury, Marisa from the Montreal Food Divas and our hostess for the evening, Seymour. I’ve learned in the past to not go up against hungry bloggers and these women are no different. The second service was a hodgepodge of small dishes including a couple of vestiges from the old menu. Rosewood was known for their fried chicken nuggets and I’m happy to say that they remain on the menu. The only burger you will find now is a selection of succulent sliders that satiate nicely. The bun is soft and absorbs the juice from the meat which itself is tender and full of flavour. If you’re not too hungry a couple of these could fill you up nicely. We also tried fried onion and orange fritters that were a lovely surprise. These dishes a great for sharing over a couple of glasses of wine.
To clean up our palettes we were given a cup of hot tomatillo soup with made-from-scratch broth, big pieces of chicken and veggies along with a hot trou-normand that tasted like a cup of warm apple cider. Following the mid-dinner break the kitchen sent out three main courses for us to try including roasted chicken, seared bavette and baked rabbit. The chicken thighs were perfectly roasted and were served on a bed of creamy garlic infused mashed potatoes. The dish also featured marinated eggplant, charred onions and peppers and a lemon emulsion. The bavette was served with steamed vegetables, a red wine sauce and beurre provencal. The meat was tenderly cooked with a deliciously charred crust on the outside while inside the meat was medium for full flavour.
We capped the night off with a lesson in how Rosewood makes one of the most amazing Old Fashioned cocktails in the city. Infused with wood smoke the cocktail in perfectly blended with sweet bourbon that comes alive with the flavours of the smoke. We also devoured a butterscotch, walnut and cream dessert that left me wishing I had left room for dessert.
Montreal is a city that is driven by food trends. It’s nice to see restaurants like Rosewood, who are born from these trends, not just survive until the next big thing comes along but thrive by getting the right people to come along and shake things up like Colin has done. Rosewood will continue rocking out for years to come if the food continues to be as good as it was last week and that is music to my ears.
Image credit: Rosewood (Facebook)