Yesterday I joined a gathering of friends at The Orbit Room for a warm return to the City and TGIF. My first time there, it was a fun experience to have expert mixmaster, Ron, design a cocktail for me. I told him that my favorite was purple, I'm an Aries, that I wanted something refreshingly fruity but not too sweet, and no wine, please. He studied my aura, asked me what spirits I enjoyed, then concocted the combination of hibiscus, muddled Clementine slices, mace infusion, and a healthy glug of Maker's Mark bourbon. Even though I asked him to pour light, this was quite a strong drink. Mine was actually one of the plainer drinks in the round, and I liked some of the other combinations he created better. The watermelon margarita-like tequila cocktail, cilantro/mint and tequila, apple/cucumber/hibiscus vodka, and even a straight-ahead vodka tonic poured from a fresh bottle of tonic was a cut above.
Then we walked to nearby Rotee in the Lower Haight (http://roteesf.com/) for dinner. I had enjoyed the take-out and wondered what the restaurant might be like. At 7:30pm, the two rows of tables hugging the walls were nearly empty and there was no problem putting some together to seat the 12 of us. The setting's quite attractive, a cut above most of inexpensive curry houses and the staff couldn't be nicer. There was no corkage charge for the four bottles of wine we brought in (2004 Strub Niersteiner Oelberg Spatlese and Niersteiner Hipping Kabinett, 2004 Brundlmayer Langenloiser Kamptal Riesling, and 2001 Esteva Douro). We started with a round of pakoras (mine had cauliflower in it) and samosas. My favorite dishes were the buttery and very flavorful daal maash, moist and spicy tandoori chicken leg, and complex bhuna gosht (lamb). The raita is refreshing and seductive (I had the leftover for breakfast this morning). I didn't get a taste of the meat in the chicken karahi, but I liked the saucing very much. The naan was competent, and the okra and palak paneer dishes were just fair. Prices were a tad higher than the Tandoorloin, but serving sizes are bigger. We ordered two of everything, plus rice and naan, and still had something to take home. I'd certainly return.