Rogue's Roost is a microbrewery and best known for beers. I've enjoyed the raspberry wheat (though I'm not convinced that fruit should be in beer, this one's a good argument) and oatmeal stout (a meal in itself).
On this lazy summer evening, we're here to try the food.
The decor of Rogue's Roost is anything but dull. Along with a small outer patio on street level, there's a glassed-in sunroom overlooking Spring Garden, an inside bar with a view to the brew tanks and heading up another flight of stairs will bring you to the Crow's Nest, perched above the main floor. On the end of the long bar is a small service area with a dumbwaiter. The light above it goes on when there's food inside, and the waitstaff go to pick it up from wherever it is the kitchen is hidden.
I've had the typical pub stuff here before, and Rogue's does a decent job of pub standards like deep fried pepperoni ($5.95), nachos (small, $7.95) and potato skins ($6.50), all things that go well with the beer.
Tonight, we're going with a basic appetizer and starting with a basket of beefeater fries ($3.75). Straight out of the freezer bag, and deep-fried. Nothing exceptional here, and we weren't offered the gravy (for .75) which we note after we've placed our order. They're crispy, not greasy, and that's about all that can be said about them.
We've selected our main courses because our interest is piqued by something a little different. One is the Cajun chicken fusilli ($8.95), the second is a pepperoni and mushroom calzone made with the Rogue's own pizza dough.
The pasta comes tossed in a "mild Cajun rose sauce." I'm very familiar with Cajun cooking, and I've not known a rose sauce to be part of the repertoire, unless you count the presence of Marie Rose sauce in Creole cooking. This sauce is not it. It's a disgustingly sweet tomato cream concoction that drowns the fusilli, the few bits of rubbery chicken and the slivers of pepper that make up the dish. And there's nothing that should be "mild" about Cajun---spicy, bold flavours are trademarks; there isn't any of that here.
The calzone is a giant pizza pocket of pepperoni, mushroom cheese and tomato sauce, and while it's not bad, it's not very good, either. Lacking filling, lacking taste---overall, lacking. The side Caesar has plenty of fresh romaine, grated Parmesan, croutons and a very good commercial dressing.
Both main courses are hefty portions; not typically a problem, but when the food isn't great, it's not much of a benefit.
I'm not impressed with the service tonight either. It's not busy, yet the server is far more interested in chatting with a bar patron; even after he takes food from the dumbwaiter, he leaves it sitting on the counter and finishes his story before delivering the meal to a table. Another meal sits while he eats his own supper. This is unacceptable. It's disrespectful to the client waiting for food and to the kitchen. We only get a perfunctory "Things good?" as he's whizzing by. When someone brings a beer back to the bar, saying it's flat, he tells the customer it's because they brew their own beer here, there's not much carbonation.
By this argument, they must make their own fountain pop too, because ours is lacking fizz. And I suppose lacking fizz is the best way to sum up what, for us, has been largely a waste of a good appetite.
Rogue's is best left for the beer lovers.