We are now up to 9 new restaurants in the neighbordhood in the past two years, and last night SPP and I tried one of the newest, Roasted Peppers. They just opened on Monday. We were wandering around the neighborhood, thinking we might have Asian, but the Asian places were all too crowded (my favorite one, Red Plum, now requires reservations). I remembered that Roasted Peppers had just opened and suggested we try it.
Since I didn't set out to try a new restaurant, I didn't take a camera with me, so I'm afraid this review is photo-free.
I have complained quite a bit about corporate dominance and how it's smashing the little guy. Well, this place can make me happy for a couple of reasons. You see, my mom-and-pop-dominated strip had its first Starbucks. Residents complained about how the character of our neighborhood was changing. What would become of the independent coffee shop two doors down? Then Starbucks had its mass store closings and my local Starbucks folded after less than year. Roasted Peppers is where Starbucks used to be. Score one for the little guy!
Roasted Peppers has a nice, minimalist decor, that is still reminscent of the Starbucks that was there before. The problems is that with the exposed brick wall and tile floor, it has a bit of an echo. The place was pretty empty (we were one of three tables that were occupied during the time we were there and they were not all occupied at the same time) which didn't help. They have a lot of staff for such a small restaurant. Waitress was very nice -very attentive and seeming a bit nervous. I guess when you have been open less than a week, everyone is a bit jumpy.
They don't have a liquor license yet, although there is a huge bar area, so I assume they intend to have one eventually. It seems that problem is afflicting more than one restaurant in the area. I joked to my husband that Molly Spillane's must be putting in a fix with the powers that be so that other restaurants can't serve liquor and will go to Molly's to drink. ;-D.
When we sat down we were served a bread plate of bread that was oiled, grilled, and pressed. We had roasted pepper hummus on the side. It was a pretty promising start.
We started off our dinner with salads. Kevin had a simple house salad with a lemon vinaigrette. He didn't seem impressed one way or another. He was really a bit jumpy about eating in a restaurant that was so empty as if the food must be really bad (instead of just realizing the place was less than a week old). I had a spinach and fennel salad with a "citrus" vinaigrette. My salad was pretty good, but it needed a better balance of sweet and savory ingredients. It had dried cranberries, and mango, and candied pecans. It would have been a little better if one of the sweet ingredients had been left off - or even if more fennel had been added. A little cheese or avocado or bacon would have been nice to counter all that sweetness. I really liked the dressing and I understand where they were trying to go with it. I give them credit.
For dinner I had skirt steak topped with a corn and black bean salsa and husband had red snapper tacos. The tacos really made him perk up. He called them very "professional" and raved about them. He wasn't excited about the place right away, but the tacos really won him over. My steak was good. It was perfectly cooked (not a bit above the medium rare that I asked for) and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The salsa was a bit bland. It was grilled corn and black beans - and not much else. A little lime, some garlic, a little cumin, some chili pepper - any of that might have woken up the taste a bit.
For dessert he had a jalapeno brownie with coconut ice cream. I had bread pudding. He loved his brownie. He could really taste the jalapeno and thought it was quite clever. The bread pudding had raspberry jam nicely sandwiched between the bread layers. I thought the custard could have used a bit more flavor. They advertise it as having "almond-spiced whipped cream", but there was only a little tiny dollop on there. A little almond in the custard (or perhaps just a little more vanilla) would have made it perfect. I also had a scoop of that delicious coconut ice cream.
The nervous waitress checked on us often to make sure we were happy with everything as did the owner (or person I assume was the owner). Everything was served in a timely fashion. No complaints at all about the service.
All in all it was an enjoyable meal, but there was room for some improvement. We will definitely go back and see how the place evolves. It was so empty last night (although it was around 8:30) and I really hope they make it.