Nick Hargrove from The True Food Kitchen was scheduled for the show on Tuesday, so we went into town. And we had another book launch party that evening, so we left early to have lunch at Rockrose, the new Contemporary Greek restaurant in the International House Hotel. Mary Ann, who has no problem being first in a restaurant, was a little late for this one. It was their second meal. She was determined though, and I didn’t fight her.
The last time I was in this place was when it was Lemon Grass, the brainchild of Minh Bui. It opened as Rambla, the before-its-time tapas place from Kenny Lacour. Rambla wasn’t longlived, and Bui opened Cafe Minh. So this place has been empty a long time.
Inside, it bore no resemblance to any previous place. It was very subdued, with navy blue banquettes and cool grey marble tables. No Aqua blue anywhere. Nick Asprodites was adamant about that. He and chef Brian Doyle have a very clear vision of what they want the restaurant to be. Modern Greek. Light Mediterranean flavors. We can’t wait to go back for dinner, but this first lunch was terrific.
We started with a roasted red pepper dip with feta and fresh dill. Served with grilled focaccia. This was the most vivid orange, Mary Ann was dazzled. The orange color was outlined in olive oil. This was just great. Nick wanted us to try the lemon potatoes, a hot seller, he assured us. I got these with a lamb burger. I was really impressed with this. It was a little too rare for what I usually like with lamb, but it was ground and it worked. The lemon potatoes seemed a little underdone. Mary Ann’s entree was souvlaki, which she had mixed feelings about. She was disappointed to see that it was dark meat chicken on the skewers, but they were perfectly cooked and had a nice flavor. The focaccia was a little thick for MA but she was practically ecstatic about that salad. There are few things my wife likes more than a good Greek salad. And the tzatziki was great.
Brian Doyle came over to talk for a bit and asked if we had tried the leek and spinach pie, also known as spanikopita around here. He was very proud of it. When this arrived we could easily see why. This wasn’t the little triangles we’re used to but a tall stack of phyllo and spinach and feta. Beautiful, and extremely flaky. This was served with two zucchini fritters and more delicious tzatziki. Chef explained zucchini fritters are always served with this pie in Greece. Mary Ann was crazy about this.
MA and I have had many discussions about the drawback of going to new restaurants. She has continually tried to make the point that it isn’t set in stone that a new restaurant needs to grow for six months. This place makes me want to see it her way.