Friday, June 26, 2015

Homestead on the Roof

Location for a restaurant is a very big thing and a restaurant has to be very special if it's in a location that doesn't have a lot of foot traffic.  Even if a place is in a good location though, it does really help if you can find it.  This made me a little skeptical when Homestead on the Roof opened a couple of years ago.  Located in West Town on the Roof of Roots Pizza, you have to walk through Roots to get to the entrance of Homestead.  While there is a sign for Homestead on the outside wall of Roots Pizza, it still isn't obvious where exactly it is.  After walking through Roots Pizza, you will come to a hallway in back with a host station beside a stairway that leads to the roof where Homestead is located.  There is a small interior dining room, but the majority of Homestead on the roof is open to the air and is surrounded by gardens used to supply some of the greenery used on the plates.  There is a frame over most of the dining area that could be used to throw a tent over to cover diners in inclement weather, but on the beautiful evening that I was there, it was uncovered and open.  There are also large heating torches in the corners of the dining areas which, on the evening that I was there, were going strong.
Being a farm-to-table restaurant, the menu is constantly changing based on what happens to be in season at the time.  I am not absolutely certain that the same can be said of the cocktail menu, but it did seem to be featuring a lot of fruits that would be fresh and in season at the time that I went, so I would guess that it is the case that the cocktail menu is also seasonal.  In addition to the cocktails, they also offer beer and a small selection of wines by the glass and bottle.  I started things off with a cocktail whose name I happened to like.  It was called Violet, You're Turning Violet and it was made from Blueberry Veev (a carbon neutral spirit similar to vodka that is infused with Acai and Blueberries), Cava, and Lemon, and garnished with a Flower and a Blueberry.  While the drink did look violet around the edges, it was primarily the color of cava, a light straw color.  It was frothy, sparkling, and very bright.  I liked it and it did do a lot to wake up my taste buds for the forthcoming meal.
For my starter, I was looking at an Oxtail Croquette, but was told that they were out of Oxtails so, I went with the Frika Salad.  I had no idea what Frika was but the dish also had Morels, Leeks, and a Burnt Leek Vinaigrette,  I knew that I like morels and leeks, so I thought that I could work with it even if it turned out that I didn't like frika.  While I was waiting, I looked up frika and found it to be smoked green spelt, an edible grain similar to farro that has been grown for thousands of years.  The dish was also very good.  The frika was served separately from the morels and leeks, but together or separate, they were both good.  The frika was very firm, almost crunchy, and had a slightly nutty flavor.  The morels were well cooked and went well with the grilled leeks, and the burnt leek vinaigrette added a nice smoky onion flavor to everything.

For my main course, I went with a favorite of mine, the duck.  in this case, it was Roast Duck served with thinly sliced Duck Ham, Candied Rhubarb, Anise, and Cranberry Beans.  This was a very good dish with a variety of flavors and textures.  The duck leg was juicy and tender and had a nice crispy skin.  The duck ham was like a prosciutto with a duck flavor to it.  The rhubarb added some tartness and the anise added a hint of licorice flavor.  The beans were hearty and starchy and similar to pinto beans with a milder nutty flavor and everything went together really well.

After I finished my main course, I looked at the dessert menu.  All of the desserts were named after the fruit that it featured.  When I went the featured desserts were Huckleberry, Peach, Raspberry, and Cherry.  There was a short ingredient description with each one, but it was still slightly ambiguous.  I ordered the Raspberry dessert and shortly after I ordered, this arrived without explanation.  This looked like Raspberry Sorbet so I thought that this was my dessert.  If you can't tell, it's pretty small consisting of about two bites.  The garnish is a blueberry to give you perspective on size.  It was a nice, if simple, presentation and it tasted good, but I thought that, if this is my dessert, it's terribly over priced.  I wasn't happy, but I wasn't going to make a scene there.  I ordered it, I have learned not to do it again.  I finished the small cone and waited for my bill.
Then my actual dessert came out.  This was much better and much closer to what I had been expecting.  It started with a Raspberry Sorbet on top, topping a strip of Raspberry Chocolate garnished with Granola and Mint.  In the glass were some Raspberries topping a layer of Bee Pollen Creme, and Raspberry Gelee.  This relieved me a lot and I really enjoyed it.  It was sweet, tart, chocolatey with fresh fruit and the very nice bee pollen custard.  
To finally finish things off, I was given a Praline Truffle with my bill.  It was sweet, and nutty with layers of flavor and it was a great finish to a very good meal.  Despite the hiccup at dessert, this was a very good meal in a unique setting and now that I know what to expect, I would be happy to return.


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