The Roosevelt, 623 North 25th Street, Richmond
Karisa: In my mind The Roosevelt is synonymous with Marin. She loves the place. Before she moved and left me, she talked about it all the time. When she visited a few months ago, it's where we went to dinner. So of course when she was back for brunch, it's where we headed. Given Marin's love of the place, and other dinners I've had there, I expected a 5 brunch. I think we all expected a 5 brunch actually. *spoiler alert* We did not get a 5 brunch.
The first negative was that The Roosevelt is one of those places where your whole party has to be there to sit down. I hate that. Especially when there are plenty of tables open and the bar is crowded. The second negative was that they sat us next to the door. BURRR! Poor Andrea had to wrap herself up in her scarf like an old lady. The third negative was we had to wait a really long time to order drinks, and when a server finally came take our order she was a tad rude and didn't know their drink menu (the blood orange bellini was replaced with an apple cider concoction, she didn't know the ingredients of "her favorite" drink, etc.)
Poor service is certainly not a new experience for us, (but has not previously been my experience at The Roosevelt) but I was the sure the food would be amazing. I mean, it's Marin's favorite place for a reason! Unfortunately (are you sensing a trend here?) there were very limited Karisa-friendly options on the menu, so I was stuck ordering the ricotta pancakes. I'm just not a sweets lover, so when they came out pre-drenched in syrup I was unhappy. I want to control my own syrup output dangit! They ended up being okay, and the tartness of the blackberries certainly helped, but I would have appreciated having a savory option to choose. To complement the pancakes, I ordered a side of cheese grits. To say they were disappointing would be an understatement. For a $4 side I expect something pretty amazing, but they were luke warm (the cheese didn't even melt!) and just not very well cooked. Bummer. In the end, we were all disappointed with our brunch at The Roosevelt. In this girl's opinion, this must-visit dinner spot is a pass-up spot for brunch.
Andrea: I have a confession to make that may make me an outsider in the food community: I've yet to fall in love with The Roosevelt. My first dinner there was fairly soon after they opened, and I was not a fan of the food. The pimento cheese was the bright spot of a second visit that featured drinks and appetizers. Brunch this week was my third venture and again failed to wow me. Despite that, I'm still willing to give it another try, as tons of other Richmonders (and food critics) can't be wrong, right?
I ordered a mimosa (amazing!), the lemon ricotta pancakes, and split a fried chicken biscuit with two of my brunchin' ladies. I found the biscuit to be super flaky and it definitely had potential, but it was dry and the chicken was cold. Although Karisa and I ordered the same dish, I wish that we had switched because I found my pancakes to be overdone (aka burnt) while Karisa's were light. Perhaps the patron should have the option of whether they'd like their hotcakes light or dark, because I know some people (like myself) have clear preferences. My other critiques of the brunch experience were the so-so service, the weird smoky haze in the air, and the fact that we were seated at the coldest table right by the door.
Michele: I was very excited to try the Roosevelt for brunch last week. I had never eaten there before, but I’ve only heard great things about it. One friend told me that he’d had the best fried chicken he’s ever eaten at the Roosevelt.
I ordered my standard Bloody Mary and coffee. I’ve noticed an emerging trend in Bloody Marys when I brunch out of town, but I feel like Richmond has been a little slow in recognizing this trend – bacon. The Roosevelt prepares their Bloody Mary with bacon flavored vodka. The bacon flavor was present but very subtle in this drink. I liked it. Rather than olives, the drink contained little bits of green tomato. The coffee tasted alright to me as well.
For my meal this week I selected the leek and mushroom hash, with chorizo and a slow cooked egg. I remember an additional cruciferous vegetable in there, but I don’t remember which one. I was pretty excited about the chorizo and vegetables. Whenever I order a dish containing sausage, ham, or another kind of meat that is supposedly “bad for you,” I feel like having a few vegetables in there negates the bad. I had no idea what to expect from the slow cooked egg. Andrea, Marin, and I also ordered a chicken biscuit to split. When the plates arrived, I sure was happy that we ordered the chicken biscuit. The food on my plate looked very tasty, but there just didn’t seem to be enough of it. The fried chorizo bits were quite tasty, and the vegetables were cooked to perfection. The mushrooms were soft and a bit chewy, while the cabbage-y vegetable had just the right amount of crunch. The slow cooked egg looked like a soft boiled egg that had jumped out of its shell. My research later told me that a slow cooked egg is cooked inside its shell in warm water for about 45 minutes. Once cooked, the shell is cracked and the insides slide out completely intact. The slow cooked egg is a little bit runnier than a soft boiled egg. It mixed in well with the chorizo and vegetables. My only real complaint about this dish is that I wanted twice as much of it. The portion size was way too small. I gobbled up all of it before remembering that I had friends to share with. Sorry ladies.
Thankfully, I still had some chicken biscuit. It arrived wrapped in paper, which was cute. I think I made some comment like, “It’s like Chick-Fil-A, but without the hate!” The biscuit was very crumbly and a little dry. The chicken tasted alright to me, not especially crispy or seasoned. My main complaint is that the entire thing was a little cold. Even my part of the biscuit wasn’t enough to slay the hunger dragon. I finished off Andrea’s remaining pancakes near the end of our meal.
Overall, our brunch at Roosevelt made me sad. I had such high expectations, and they were smashed to bits. The service was frustrating. My main dish was tasty, but I needed more of it. In spite of all that, I want to go back to the Roosevelt. I hope that our experience last week was just a bad day. I still want to have the great Roosevelt experience that it seems like everyone else in Richmond has had.
MARIN!!!: As a huge fan of my previous drinking and dining experiences at the Roosevelt it pains me to say this, but I must admit that today's brunch was highly disappointing. On previous occasions I've truly enjoyed this Church Hill gem's cocktails, appetizers, and dinner menu items, always finding each new offering I tried to be inventive and incredibly tasty. So what went wrong with brunch? Well, let's see. To start, the service was questionable. Our waitress(?) was brusque, didn't seem terribly familiar with the menu, and made some bold (to put it nicely) plate-stacking choices. I know, I know, I'm a stickler for impeccable service and am super tough on waitstaff. I WILL, however, give a shout out to the Roosevelt bartenders, who have never been anything but friendly, professional, and knowledgeable. Anyhow, you might be wondering why I put a (?) after "waitress," and the reason is this: the woman who took our drink order was NOT the MAN who took our food order, and HE, to my knowledge, was not the man who came out to inform us that one of the drinks we ordered had in fact been replaced on the menu. So, there's that. It wasn't entirely clear at any point who, in fact, was our server (and, by extension, to whom our tip was going). And the place wasn't terribly busy, either. So, back to the food. The menu was incredible, and when it came time to order I was still torn between several options, but that all changed when I heard that the soup of the day was split pea with ham and creme fraiche, and the special was pork belly sausage with grits and a slow-cooked egg. DELISH! I ordered both with glee. The soup was incredibly tasty. You die-hard split pea soup fan might be turned off by how thin and watery the soup appears, but I assure you, if you get past that and power through you will find it astonishingly flavorful and satisfying. The special was another story. The grits were lukewarm, the egg added nothing to the dish, and the pork belly sausage--well, I'll admit I'd never before TRIED pork belly sausage, but I can't imagine it's supposed to be so dependent on its complements to infuse it with taste. I also shared in Andrea and Michele's fried chicken biscuit, which was inexplicable. Dry biscuit with decent fried chicken served wrapped in paper like fast food? But you know, my drink was fantastic. Bourbon tea punch, I believe it was called. Bourbon and sweet tea, in perfect proportion. Delicious. The next time I visit the Roosevelt, I'm getting drinks and apps at the bar.
Food - Good. Michele loved her chorizo hash (although there wasn't enough!) but the rest of us weren't in love with our selections. Few veggie options. Grits weren't very flavorful and were served cold. We found the biscuit to be dry. Andrea found the pancakes to be overdone.
Service - Fair. Several people came by the table throughout the meal, so it was hard to tell who was our server and who to flag down when we needed something. We were seated for what felt like forever before a waitress came to take our drink order and when she did, she didn't seem very knowledgeable about the selections when we had questions.
Atmosphere - Good. To quote Michele, it's "cool as shit". However, it was very smoky by the bar when we were waiting for the table and it was über cold when we were seated at the table by the door. As the meal progressed, the noise level got louder and louder (and it wasn't just us!). We loved the cool Richmond maps and photographs on the walls, the beautiful (and very Poe-like) black chandelier over the bar, and the big open windows that gave us a great view and fun people-watching opportunities.
Coffee - Good. A little bitter, but good enough for us to enjoy a few cups.
Mimosa/additional alcoholic beverages - Very Good. Traditional mimosa was kick-ass. Served in a pint glass over ice, it had just the right zip of sparkle and orange flavor, but not too much orange. The special mimosa (apple cider) tasted like apple juice; it would have garnered a Fair if rated independently. Marin loved her bourbon and sweet tea beverage.
Bloody Mary - Good. Perfect spiciness, bacon vodka tasted subtle, bits of green tomato in the drink.