I haven't found any threads on Red Rose Restaurant in Carroll Gardens -- which I perhaps should have taken as a sign not to try it, ha, ha! -- but in case anyone else shares my aspiration to enjoy a good meal in one of the 'neighborhood' restaurants which have been part of the landscape long before we entered it, I wanted to issue a warning against Red Rose. IMHO, the ONLY place on Smith and its immediate environs to get good "red sauce Italian" served by non-Neanderthals-- except maybe for Helen's on Court -- is Vinny's b/w Union and Sackett. The Red Rose did NOTHING to challenge Vinny's last nite.
A friend and I arrived shortly after 8:30 for dinner and the place, as it generally appears whenever I look in, was virtually empty, with only one party of four way in the back and a party of two closer to the bar. We ordered salads to start and my Caesar came with the croutons I specifically requested be omitted, a dead giveaway to me that the salads are not freshly made here, since there presence could not have been the result of le chef's great pride in the croutons which were clearly straight out of the McCormick's box (and not necessarily a fresh box, judging by the trail of grit they left as I picked them out of my salad).
They managed to get our entree orders right in terms of the plates, but the service was some of the sloppiest I have ever witnessed. Although this place is supposed to be open until 10 on Sundays and in fact left its said little "Daily Chef Specials" chalkboard out on Smith Street until 9:15 or so, the gang had apparently decided that 10 minutes, which translated to shortly before 9:00, was sufficient time for me to have reworked my salad, for the lurking began around then. I personally find it very unnerving to be trying to eat and converse while my peripheral vision is distracted every two minutes with an impatient looking waiter but we tried to ignore it, my companion in better stead to do that because he had his back to the waiter.
Unfortunately, my companion's advantage was short-lived, because his position left him open to an Attack of the Ill-timed Entree, as the waiter arrived with both entrees in tow without ever clearing our salads, the result being that we essentially had to coordinate the plate change for our tableside "professional." The entrees were prepared as ordered, but clearly had been sitting under a weak heat lamp or such because my allegedly center cut chop could not have been more rubbery had it been served directly from one of those display models one sees at lower-scale sushi restaurants. My companion's salmon had a decent texture but his mashed potatoes and veggies, like my own flavourless vegetable sautee, were at salad-bar temperature.
If enjoying the food wasn't challenging enough due to its lackluster flavor, the professionals occupying Red Rose last nite, including, I was appalled to eventually figure out, the owners, did everything to convey that at 9:15 we were intruding on their evening. A brief listing of the clumsy if not rude overtures to which we were subjected in the minutes that ensued: (1) not a single offer to refresh water or beverages; (2) two attempts to pull away our plates (not simultaneously but at five minute intervals between); (3) the departure of our waiter to assist in garbage hauling duty; (4) an inquiry as to whether we would be paying by cash or credit card even before we were done eating what was edible off the hotly pursued plates; and (5) a sudden and louder than necessary playing of "Who...Millionaire" on the bar top TV, louder than necessary I suggest because the entire 'staff', including Le Chef and the erstwhile owners, all gathered directly beneath it, mesmerized when they were not glaring in our direction!
As we awaited our check -- which one would think the initial preparation of would have been a more productive way for Slappy the Waiter to endure our actual repast than jerking around like a jack-in-the-box, the party of four left to scowls from Madame Owner and bartender and not a single thank you or good nite. When Slappy had completed the check, he placed it on the table and asked for the credit card before we even had a chance to open the portfolio. My companion, with more calm than I would've expected either us to muster by then "asked" Slappy for a moment to review the bill. Slappy backed off visibily chagrined and not three minutes later sent over a Jr. Slappy to whine about their having to "shut off the Visa account." The $52.00 Visa bill was tendered with a grudging 15% tip, clearly more than these people deserved but...
I note for the record that this nightmare concluded at 9:45, with Slappy/Jr.; bartender and le chef all racing across Smith Street into a car -- think of clowns piling into a circus jalopy -- and Madame Owner pointedly glaring at us as my companion helped me on with my jacket -- silly us, we should have rushed out coatless so as to leave unspoiled her final special moments with Regis. We brushed right past her insignificant other (not Regis, Hubby) making our exit and as with the party of four who had preceded us, neither had even a grudging valedictory to offer.
So the search for good neighborhood Italian fare goes on! I urge the inmates at Red Rose to keep watching "Millionaire" because any one of them is more likely to get rich on an appearance there than in conducting business as we experienced it last nite! Anyone with better leads or thoughts that might persuade me that we just caught this crew on a bad nite, e.g. maybe they're Eagles fans, please share! :)
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