ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
A curiosity attendant to the rise of the celebrity chef is that, when high-profile chefs open their inevitable spinoff restaurants, the new places they are always downscale from the ambitious restaurants the chefs became famous for. I’ll give you a moment to consider John Besh as an example. His best work was (and still is) at Restaurant August. What followed, however, were Luke (a French bistro), Domenica (a pizzeria), Borgne (a casual seafood house), and most recently Johnny Sanchez (a Mexican hangout). All are good, so we have no argument. But. . . will we ever get another August? I doubt it.
This apparent rule also affects the work of Susan Spicer, who has always operated understated restaurants. After becoming known for the high-goal Bayona, she admitted that her second current restaurant Mondo would be a neighborhood, family kind of place. We weren’t expecting that her third restaurant Rosedale would have even rougher edges. I certainly wouldn’t didn’t we expect that the new place would include an open jail cell.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Rosedale seems more a part of Mid-City than of its officially Zip-indicated Lakeview. And Mid-City seems to have an insatiable taste for neighborhood restaurants. Rosedale always seems to be full. The food is not only modest and homestyle, but appears to have been adapted for the palates of people from the 1940s. Many of the ingredients will appear to be of more recent vogue. And except for a few dishes here and there, the menu is unlike any other.
The best dish I’ve had here is a big bowl of spaghetti with a thick, flavorful red sauce, shreds of ricotta cheese, and–evidence of Susan’s presence–lamb meatballs. The whole menu sounds like that. Most of it is very good. Some items are puzzling. Here’s a bowl of grits with your choice of eight toppings. Overall, there’s a subtle Italian pervasion.
Owner/chef Susan Spicer glowing career has been well known since her first, 1983 debut at Savoir Faire*. From there she went to the Bistro at the Maison De Ville* before launching in 1990 the prominent partnership that is Bayona. She was also involved in Herbsaint and Cobalt*, her interests in which she later sold. Her newest place is noteworthy for having long been the Lakeview police station. The neighborhood, for which the restaurant is named, has its own history as a modest collection of houses that was hit hard by Katrina. Wedged between a short row of office buildings, Delgado College, a railroad, and several cemeteries, Rosedale it’s not well known except to those who live there. (*Above denotes an extinct restaurant.)
Although the solid old building has been renovated into a restaurant, it is stark in an old-fashioned way. The seating is not especially comfortable. Parts of the place–particularly in the exterior–don’t seem to have recovered fully from the hurricane. The old jail cell has been converted into a rest room. The restaurant is a little hard to find the first time you look for it . Fix your sights on the enormous police radio tower next door. It can be seen for miles. Finally, be careful how you drive on Rosedale Drive. Some of the potholes can swallow a small car.
Soup du jour
Turtle soup, spinach dumplings, sherry, egg mimosa
Guacamole, tortilla chips
Grilled cebollitas, cotija, lime
Eggplant caponata, buratta
Campechana (marinated seafood cocktail)
Warm mushroom salad, shallots, kale, Manchego cheese
Oyster, bacon, spinach gratin
Shrimp hush puppies, hush puppy batter, sweet pepper relish
Rosemary barbecue shrimp
Cheddar stoneground grits with smothered greens, broccoli, mushrooms, bacon, eggs, barbecue shrimp, cochon de lait, and/or short rib debris
Chopped salad, (peppers, celery, creamy Pecorino dressing
Cochon de lait poor boy, hot mustard, slaw, fried pickle
Shrimp creole, fried eggplant, rice
Caramelized black drum, green garlic rice, mirliton chow chow
Lemon-herb grilled chicken thigh, olives, red bliss potatoes, tzaziki
Panéed pork chop, field peas, hot peach mustard
Lamb meatballs, spaghetti, ricotta, spicy Calabrian breadcrumbs
Braised beef short ribs, rice, broccoli-cheddar gratin, LA barbecue bbq sauce
Pecan pie, whipped cream
Pineapple mango upside down cake
Ice cream sandwich duo (chocolate mint or ginger coconut)
FOR BEST RESULTS
Get a soup. All I’ve tried were terrific. Lunch at peak dinner hours here can be very busy and may require a waiting list. Don’t make up your mind about the main course until after you’ve spoken with the waiter at length. You may find that a series of small plates is better suited to your appetite.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
If a dish sounds dreary, don’t order it. Anything that sounds like mash atop a mash, for example. If you have any doubts about where you parked your car, tell them to the host.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +2
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations