Veggies Are the Stars
Modern, simple fare at Rosemary
It is perhaps ironic that when I go out to eat, I often order dishes that seem like something I would make at home. Why not order something totally different from your everyday, right? I like to think this tendency of mine is not because I’m predictable, but because I appreciate a home cooked meal more than something fancy and inaccessible.
Rosemary fits this bill for me nicely. Their menu contains huge dinner salads filled with lots of produce, plenty of veggie-centric dishes and big portions. Even some of their less-than-healthy dishes have so many veggies in them that you can kind of kid yourself that it’s good for you. My kind of place.
Rosemary opened only two months ago up by Montgomery Plaza. It’s pretty sparsely decorated inside, but certainly cozy enough. When I visited at 12:30 on a Wednesday they were so slammed with a lunch crowd that the chef had to come out to help with serving. It’s a good sign for a new restaurant, but also a sign that they should probably hire more waitstaff.
When I first visited Rosemary for lunch I was pretty starving, and ordered more than I could reasonably finish. I tried the blackberry basil lemonade ($3), which was sweet and fruity—although lacking any noticeable basil flavor. I decided on an appetizer of crispy pan fried Spanish cauliflower with romesco sauce ($8) and the mushroom, white bean and farro burger for my main ($8). This latter came with a side of Rosemary fries, too. In retrospect, perhaps less fried stuff would have been a good choice.
Which is not to say that it wasn’t all good, though. The cauliflower is battered in rice flour and fried crispy, almost like tempura. It’s flavored with black pepper and rosemary, and the romesco sauce is silky smooth and tomatoey to complement it. The serving is more than enough for two people as an appetizer, but I did my best anyway.
The mushroom, white bean and farro burger is a creative take on the veggie burger, but it suffers from the same issue that plagues veggie burgers the world over: a little too dry. I loved the arugula and aioli on top, but the addition of onion rings on top of all that felt like a little too much. Substitute some tomato or something bright and juicy for that, and I’d be a happy camper. The fries that came with the burger (you can also choose a salad, soup or kale slaw as a side) were seasoned well but definitely came from a freezer.
On a dinnertime visit to Rosemary I was much more impressed with my order. With a particularly famished friend in tow, I ordered the eggplant adovada ($8) and a side of black pepper truffle fries ($4) to start us off. The adovada, which comes with fresh jicama chips and guacamole on top, tastes smoky and meaty. There’s a slight sweetness to the eggplant from slow roasting, and the guacamole adds a nice contrast to the little bit of spice in it. I would certainly go back for this one. The truffle fries were aided by a super garlicky sauce on the side.
I wanted to go a little lighter on this meal, so I went for one of the several tasty-sounding salads: the heirloom tomato, beet and burrata ($11). This mixed greens salad came with little wedges of roast beets and sliced multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, plus a whole burrata split open on top—so much for light. This is served with a slightly sweet balsamic dressing that’s soaked up nicely in the soft burrata.
My companion ordered my second choice, the farro risotto ($11). I believe risotto is one of the more satisfying foods on the planet, and making it with farro makes it all the heartier. This extra creamy dish comes with a variety of different sauteéd mushrooms on top and enough fresh parsley to make it seem, visually at least, like you’re eating something remotely healthy. When I got left with the box of leftovers, I found myself eating them on my couch later that night, watching nature documentaries in the dark.
Throughout both visits to Rosemary the staff was exceedingly friendly, and they all seemed to know the menu pretty well. One waitress recognized me on my second visit, and another I recognized from the Downtown Growers’ Market. When I saw that the chef was photographing a new potential salad for the menu, he offered to let me be the guinea pig for it. This approachability is refreshing in a restaurant of Rosemary’s caliber. Though still ironing out some kinks in the early phases of restauranthood, Rosemary, I suspect, will find its success through its list of simple but satisfying plant-based dishes and its above par service.
4565 San Mateo Blvd. NE, Ste. A
Hours: Tue-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 10am-9pm
Alibi recommends: Eggplant adovada; heirloom tomato, beet and burrata salad
Vibe: Relaxed dinner date in a friendly joint.