Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Roebling Tea Room

I live maybe 40 feet from the Roebling Tea Room and, despite its interesting menu, I'd not yet been. It always seemed so crowded for brunch, a bit expensive for regular dinner...on Sunday, unwilling to venture far, Priya and I went there for brunch and found that Labor Day had cleared the crowds out tremendously.

Things had changed a bit since Priya's last visit...the quirky antique saltshakers at each table had been repeatedly stolen by hipsters and were now replaced by regular ol' dented steel-topped glass shakers. I got excited about the "bone marrow breakfast" and asked the waitress about it, and she said they were out. I pressed her--"What IS it, exactly?"--and she couldn't tell me. Pulling over another waitress, the two of them figured out that perhaps it was bone marrow spread on toast, with an egg. But they didn't have it. In fact, they never really had it. Evidently, it's just one of those things that ends up on a menu to make it look more sophisticated, but no one ever really orders it. (Once in Maine, my dad ordered grits, hearkening back to his Southern childhood; the chef himself came out to meet my dad and said that nobody had ordered grits for like three YEARS, and he kept them on the menu because he liked 'em, but they didn't have any in stock).

So I went with the red flannel hash with goat cheese, while Priya got baked eggs with cheddar. Now, to me "red flannel" hash describes corned beef hash that might include beets, while "vegetarian red flannel hash" is just beets 'n' potatoes (like Brooklyn Label's offering). The internet supports my point of view. However, there was no corned beef in the hash I received, just beets and potatoes and corn kernels, all bound together with melted goat cheese.

I don't even want to complain, because it was darn good. The goat cheese binder was a great idea, and cut the beetiness of the beets--and so did the sweet corn and starchy potatoes. Maybe they could've spent 10 cents more and given me two eggs instead of one, though.

Priya had ordered her baked eggs "rare", but they arrived with the perenniel problem of mostly-hard-cookedness that neither restaurants nor we could solve ("They do it fine in France," shrugged Priya). still good, though, pretty salty, nicely cheesy, and with a side of cheese grits that started good but soon grew gummy as they cooled.

I wish the Tea Room had had all of the exotics listed on its menu, and I wonder what else is more showpiece than actual dish...

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