PRESS / REVIEWS
WHERE DETAILS MATTER
Cape Neddick’s’ ‘The Roost’ has ambiance, variety, good cooking
By SARAH GRANT – The York Independent
June 18 – July 1, 2010 – p. 14
I love bistros. By definition, bistros are small unpretentious, restaurants that serve wine. By tradition, they are small neighborhood eateries that reflect the character of their owners and chefs, and the comfort and hospitality bestowed by those same individuals. That’s the long way around saying bistros are fun, casual and, by the way, usually affordable. The Roost Café and Bistro is such a place. Co-owners Rob Pinkham and AIdo Vallecillo work together from their complementary talents to produce the ideal atmosphere for a seamless dining experience.
AIdo may appear to be the guy in the background, but he has personally, perfectly appointed the entire interior and exterior of the place, and not just the design but in many cases the actual construction. The extensive tiny gardens, the patio, the lighting, the interior décor, and probably more details than I am aware of, are all Aldo.
While you are at the Roost you maysee him quietly tending bar in the back downstairs room and adjusting accoutrements to be just so, but Aldo’s is the personality making your first impressions of the place. His presence is felt throughout your visit as you continue to observe the meticulous details.
The equally talented Rob Pinkham is the extrovert whose warm greeting at the door lets you know that he is a most welcoming and hospitable host. He will personally see to your comfort and happiness throughout your dining experience. Rob expedites the customer service in the dining room and fills in where needed in the kitchen. The night we were there he was helping with dishwashing between runs to the front of the house to chat it up with his customers to be sure each had what she or he needed and that everything at least met, if not exceeded, expectations. Rob has marketing ingenuity.
The Roost invites you in with open French doors and alluring aromas from the partially visible kitchen. The entire restaurant was originally an extensive carriage house connecting the 19th century house with its barn, now called Marketplace Gift Shop with local artisan crafts and fine arts.
Imagine wide—perhaps quarter sawn—pine board floors, honey colored pine paneling, and plenty of post and beam original structure. Plaster walls are painted an appetizing cream of pumpkin spice color. The recessed and track lighting is softened just enough to relax your eyes, but not dimmed so much that you can’t see your food or surroundings. Tiny white lights clinging to every twig of an interior tree in the bar and a few exterior trees at the entrance and on the patio spread more indirect light that, along with each table’s candle, add much to an enchanting, romantic ambiance. The interior is made cozier by the occasional scatter of oriental rugs and the homey reassurance of sideboards and shelves lined with epicurean delights available for purchase. These, as well as casual gold-colored tablecloths, effectively cushion the diners’ din of conversation and frequent laughter over the soft strains of Latin jazz and tasteful disco.
It is probably past time to talk about the fare. My dining partner and I enjoyed dinner at The Roost. This is important to note because The Roost serves up to three meals a day each with a very different menu. Dinner is served Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. Its menu is a deliberate and thoughtful scramble of cuisines—international touches and twists on familiar sounding fare. Caribbean, Moroccan, Italian, French accents appropriately infiltrate American (and what we have adopted as American) repast. Prices never exceed $20 on this menu.
I had a special salad ($8) of organic mizuna (a “spicy” salad green) studded with savory gogonzola crumbles and balanced with sweet onions, plums, apricots and a brown sugar-sherry vinaigrette.
This was followed by New Zealand Lamb “Lollies” ($20), a generous half-rack of Frenched lamb chops cooked to medium rare (perfect!) with a heap of Moroccan spiced quinoa. The large plate had a few smears of butternut squash puréed with chicken stock, brown butter, chervil and a sweet je ne sais quoi that quickly became a required dipping sauce with each bite of the nearly fork tender lamb. Five or six grilled asparagus spears draped over the lamb presentation were just the right vegetable addition.
So back to Aldo’s cooking. We also tried a cup of the Black Bean Soup ($6), which unfortunately arrived at our table without the promised garnish of sour cream, lime zest and fresh cilantro, but who needs it? The soup stands on its own with a melded melody of simmered flavors. It is crafted by Aldo, who is Cuban by birth. Surely, this is a treasured family recipe.
There was nothing missing from the “Shroom” Burger ($14) that arrived at our table decadently dripping with Jarlsberg cheese, caramelized onion and wild mushroom gravy. The hand-fashioned, juicy Angus burger was oversized, probably weighing a half pound before grilling. It is the ideal portion for someone holding out for the perfect burger. The crispy waffle-cut sweet potato fries on the side were flavorful without condiments.
The Roost is open seven days for breakfast (7 to 11:30 a.m.) and lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
The breakfast menu is infused with as much originality as the dinner menu, and the lunch menu highlights familiar and uncommon sandwiches, salads and soups at reasonable prices between $5 and $11.
Not to be missed is The Roost’s Sunday Brunch (served until 3 p.m.)[2 pm winter hours, 3 pm summer hours] with an assortment of Benedicts, stuffed French toast, fabulous pancake creations, and other unique dishes all under $14.