FEED ME: Finally, Rose food matches drinks
Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Anywhere else in this valley, I’d laugh at the pretension of a restaurateur referring to his “cocktail program.” It’s a freaking cocktail menu! But at The Rose, I will forevermore keep a completely straight face as I rave about its cocktail program; at least as long as they keep meticulously crafting (yes, crafting) original cocktails as they do now.
But, as amazing as its cocktail program is, it’s not why The Rose is now my favorite spot in town. Neither is its new outdoor seating area, with room for up to 20 people. Although this is certainly an added benefit, I prefer the rich red-leather-and-dark-wood interior. In summer, however, the inside can feel a wee bit repressive.
I’m not much for going out just for a drink. Freakishly unable to handle my alcohol, I was on the bathroom floor last Ne Year’s Eve doing unspeakable things after two of The Kitchen’s coconut ginger martinis. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t drink. I just make sure to take my drinks with food.
Prior to Maho Hakoshima taking over The Rose’s kitchen this past January, the food was not worthy of the drinks. Now, I don’t know whether it’s The Loophole ($8, Jameson Irish Whiskey, honey, lemon, mint) or the Pinchitos Morunos ($25, five Moorish style marinated pork skewers with aromatic rice and parsley pistou) that has me dreaming about a return visit to The Rose. Or maybe it’s the lamb nachos ($13, braised lamb, toasted pita, feta cheese, dill tzatziki)?
Two full days after our meal, in the middle of a 20-mile hike in Yellowstone and apropos of nothing in sight or sound, this was the conversation I was having with myself:
Me: “Pinchitos. Hmmm. Yummm. Oooooo. Hmmmmm.”
Me: “I know that wasn’t fresh Chesapeake Bay blue crab, the best crab in the world, in the Crab corn fritters ($15), so they should have sucked. They were far from sucking though. Crispy, yet soft and moist on the inside. All non-blue crabs are supposed to suck though. What sort of black magic does Maho practice in his kitchen?”
Me: “The Loophole. Oooooooooooooo. Oooooooooo.”
This lasted about 15 minutes, and ended only when I considered the quantity of drool collecting about my mouth, chin and, sadly, chest, which was neither appropriate nor safe for Yellowstone’s bear-ful backcountry.
Another thing in The Loophole’s favor is that it is one of the cheapest cocktails on The Rose’s menu. I almost never, ever fall in love with the least-expensive option. Not that I wouldn’t still think it was the best drink ever at twice the price.
When our server Brittany brought out a plate of pinchitos, seeing our glasses empty she asked if we wanted another round. My dining companion, Derek, showed super-human strength.
“That was the best cocktail I’ve had in some time, but no, thank you,” he said.
Having first had the Anthos ($10, rosemary-infused Four Roses Bourbon, Clear Creek pear brandy, lemon, Darjeeling tea syrup), which was a perfectly respectable cocktail when up against anything but The Loophole, my response was different.
“I’ll have what he had,” I said.
“Can I have a sip?” Derek asked. I looked at him like he was crazy.
Just before leaving, we discovered Brittany didn’t just excel at waitressing. She’s been part of The Rose’s cocktail program since it opened, and The Loophole was her creation.
“I wanted to put it on the menu from the beginning, but they said it was too simple,” she said. “Then I came up with the idea of adding allspice dram. That made it interesting enough. That’s where ‘the loophole’ came from.”
Yes, I googled “allspice dram” once I was home.
FYI, The Loophole is only the tip of The Rose’s cocktail program. The menu includes several dozen signature cocktails, most of which you will never find anywhere else. And the ones you do find somewhere else? That “somewhere else” is only Death + Company, the lauded Manhattan bar The Rose is partnered with.
While the pinchitos are $25, most of The Rose’s menu is between $8 and $15. Plates are meant to be shared.
The Rose, in the Pink Garter Theatre on Broadway, 733-1500. Dinner from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations recommended.