Sometime between 1440 A.D. and 1450 A.D. Mr. Johannes Gutenberg created the moveable type printing press, which in turn basically gave birth to advertising. So in theory you can thank Mr. Gutenberg for every pop-up ad you have ever clicked that gave your computer the internet clap. Since this invention, several key marketing and advertising innovations have emerged, in the 1730’s magazines were created, followed by posters in 1839. The 1860’s are responsible for our roads being littered with accident causing punny death boards, and the roaring 1920’s were aptly named due to the radio being invented. The idiot box or as I like to call him, Theodore, my BFF, entered the scene in 1941. The seventies not only invented Disco but also telemarketing so that decade is pretty much worse than a Justin Bieber and Macklemore movie entitled, “What the fuck is a Macklemore?
Somehow, through the cloud of smoke that was the 60’s and the disaster that was the 70’s, the scientific minds of those generations were able to create mobile phones and personal computers which forever changed the marketing world of today. Damn near all of us carry more information that could ever be housed in one single structure in our pockets, and this data can be accessed 24 hours a day with the swipe of a finger. This technology is continuously evolving and allowing marketing firms to bombard you with immersive advertisements that are harder to ignore than a crying baby on an international flight. So, even though my blog relies almost exclusively on the very same annoying devices that I just flamed, I am somewhat drawn to restaurants that ignore the last twenty years of innovation and much like the honey badger simply don’t care to be a member of the internets.
I think I am attracted to these establishments because I feel like they are shrouded in a cloak of mystery and mysticism as they operate in a world that needs no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to survive like some sort of restaurant sorcerer. At first when I drive past these archaic relics of the restaurant world, I scoff, but with each pass, I begin to get just a little more curious about what is contained within those clandestine walls. My most recent ride on the crazy train went something like this:
Why don’t they need to embrace the limitless world of Social Media? Do they think they are better than the rest of us? That’s it; they are just pretentious smug jerks! But what if they are not? What if their food is so damned amazeballs that they know if they join the social media scene they would break the internets with their culinary genius? What if the Vincent Van freaking Gogh of Lebanese food has been cooking down the street from my house at Rose’s Place and I am missing it?
These rides on the insanity railroad are usually short, considering they always end the same way. That is, Kat and I visiting said restaurant to make sure I am not missing out on something simply because the googles doesn’t know about it. The most recent stop on the irrational rail line was as I mentioned in my earlier rant, Roses Place, located at 32-01 Broadway, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410.
Kat and I were accompanied by two of our gastrologist friends that were intrigued by Rose’s James Bond like internet existence as well. Although there are a few spots in the front of the building, if you are eating at Rose’s I highly recommend parking and entering in the rear. (TWSS) We chose this course of action, and parked in the back and walked to the back door.
Once we entered this fine establishment, we were welcomed by the friendly and warm staff that offered us our choice of table. We chose a table that had decent lighting for pictures, because my wife hates me, and we were offered menus. Rose’s is a BYOB establishment and even though we chose not to BOO, Bring Our Own, many of the other customers had.
With menus in hand, our attention was drawn to the extensive fare that Rose’s Place offers. We are not just talking your normal Hummus and Kebabs here people, we are talking snails, lamb brains, tongue, Frog’s Legs, and more slightly atypical dishes. Roses’ menu is so comprehensive that we had to ask the waiter for more time at least twice before deciding on what to share as appetizers and what to get for our entrees. For all the people that are not absolutely food crazy in the room, choosing a meal at a new restaurant for me is what I would imagine it is like for brides to choose a dress or for Lindsay Lohan to choose a new drug of choice, in other words it is not done lightly.
During this conversation, what I could only describe as a pickle plate was delivered to our table accompanied by a basket of pita. The pickle plate was full of vibrant colors thanks to the greens of the pickles, hot peppers, and olives, which contrasted quite well from the deep purple color of what I think was pickled horseradish root. I was happier than Katy Perry eating Kale when this arrived on the table because my Jewish roots basically define pickled anything as a food group all to itself.
After several minutes of discussion, debate, and several acts of flip-flopping, we signaled the waiter back to our table, and we rattled off a veritable laundry list of foodie fare that would make a stoned Shaggy and Scooby more jealous than they are of Colorado residents this week.
For our appetizers, we decided on the Hummus, the Falafel, the Armenian Salad for the table, and two Lentil Soups in an attempt to fend off the chill we had from dealing with the snow during the day. As far as entrees went, Steph went with the Inam Bayaldi, described as sautéed eggplant with tomato, onion, and garlic, Tara decided upon the Shawerma Platter defined as shredded beef marinated in seasoning, whereas Kat landed on the Kufta with Tahini, explained as ground lamb with tahini sauce. I however decided that I was feeling somewhat adventurous and threw caution to the wind by ordering the Frog’s Legs which were alluringly described as being sautéed in garlic & fresh cilantro.
With our gargantuan food order on its way to the kitchen, we started to discuss the interior of the restaurant since everyone at this table knew that I was going to be writing this review soon and wanted to make sure it was all inclusive. We agreed that the lighting was perfect, not offensively bright nor dive bar dark. The music that was playing not only set the Middle Eastern mood but was not loud enough to drown out our conversations but just loud enough to suppress our neighbors conversations. All in all the design of the restaurant’s interior was pleasant and conducive to eating and drinking.
When our appetizers arrived, I, of course, had to put everyone in a holding pattern while I took the compulsory pictures. I apologized to Steph and Tara, but informed Kat that she gets no apology because she married a crazy foodie, and the food pictures are exactly what the Mayor was talking about when he said for worse!
All of the food looked and smelled utterly fantastic. So much so, that I was unsure which dish to devour first. Luckily, our waiter brought several small plates to the table so we could share all the appetizers. We each shoveled portions of the dishes on our individual plates and began to try each and every one.
The Falafel was beyond appetizing and was the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. When this ball of yummy was paired with the sauce that came with it, it bordered on food pornography.
The Hummus which I believe was house made was just the right texture and full of flavor. The addition of the colorful spices that garnished the bowl made this dish, more attractive than Mila Kunis in Black Swan. Armed with the Pita that was already on the table, this hummus appetizer was simply flawless.
As for the Armenian Salad which was described on the menu and by the waiter as spicy, I guess they had issues in the past with people not expecting, and then not enjoying a zesty salad. However, that was the very reason I ordered it and subsequently enjoyed the hell out of it! The slight spiced nature of the seasoning combined with the citrusy dressing made for a delightful treat.
The Lentil soup was like a warm blanket for my belly. I did not have much of this scrumptious liquefied beantastic concoction because I am not a huge soup fan, but from the small amount I did sip, I could tell it was quality soup. Kat was a huge fan and basically ate her portion and mine without a dispute.
After the appetizer round, I was somewhat full, but that feeling did not last too long because once the entrees hit the table it was game on. Sometimes you have to look at eating the same way you should look at running, when you hit a wall, and your body says stop, pay no attention. Your body is a bigger liar than Bernie Madoff, and that is the truth!
Once again I took my photos while my cohorts drooled over the dishes that were placed in front of them. After the photos were snapped, I dexterously picked up a leg of a frog which was lightly battered and then pan fried in an aromatic garlic sauce and brought it to my mouth. I was unsure what to expect as this was my first frog leg, but after the first bite, I knew that I was in good hands at Rose’s. The delicate white meat of the frog flaked off the bone and was extremely complex in flavor. The best way I can describe the way the meat tasted was somewhere between chicken and fish, which I found to be delightful.
Slowly but surely, I walked my fork around the table, with permission of course, and tasted each of my fellow epicurean adventurer’s dishes. I started with Tara’s Shawerma Platter which was seasoned better than any Shawerma I have had in quite some time. The flavor was so impeccable that I did not even want to dip the yumminess into the sauce that was provided, and I am a sauce fiend.
Steph’s Inam Bayaldi was also quite good. The best part about this dish was the texture. I find that eggplant has a tendency to become a mushy pile of tasteless goo in the wrong hands, but the Chef at Rose’s was able to keep the eggplant somewhat firm, without under cooking it. The flavors married well and when mixed with the rice that was provided with each of our entrees it was a very balanced meal.
Finally, Kat’s Kufta with Tahini was nothing short of delicious. The Lamb was not gamey at all speaking to the profound skill of the Chef and his crew. Furthermore, the Tahini sauce was not overbearing, which I was concerned of, but complemented this dish faultlessly.
Rose’s Place was a great experience and I will return very shortly to try the Lamb Brains that were calling to me on this visit. Everything I ate was not only tasted wonderfully but contrary to other reviews that I read online. The portions were very reasonable when factoring in the price of the individual dishes. I still can’t believe the lack of their internet presence and could only imagine what a good public relations firm could do for their business, but I now understand how Rose’s exists in our post dial-up world. The answer is not that they are smug; it is that their food is the real deal!