This was the first time I've been to the restored Westin Book Cadillac hotel downtown, and I must say that it is, in fact, pretty nice. The men's room in the lobby needed some attention, but aside from that, it seemed very nice.
Roast currently has a cocktail/happy hour from 4-6PM Monday-Friday, with certain menu items being very affordable. Scotch Quail Eggs are $1 per, and the rest of the "Bites" menu are all $3 each: 5 oz. Roast Burger, "Beast of the Day" taco, Stuffed Peppers (stuffed with sausage of the day), Chicken Livers & Polenta, and Mac & Cheese.
When I arrived around 4:30PM, things were quite slow, and I decided to take a seat at the bar. Upon being asked what I was drinking by the bartender, I was told that they'd never heard of a Sweettart Martini, which I've had a *fantastic* rendition of at Forte in Birmingham. She tried to wing it, but after one sip, I sent it back...it just wasn't right and/or good. Can't say I didn't try.
Being hungry (literally hadn't eaten a single thing all day), I immediately started with what sounded the most promising to me: the BOTD taco, and the stuffed peppers. Yes, yes, the burger is promising, too (it's coming later), but I'd had my fill of burgers last week, and wasn't desperate to try another at that very moment. Besides, hamburgers are available anywhere, anytime...lamb sausage most certainly is not.
When they came, the stuffed peppers both looked and *smelled* amazing. They were stuffed with lamb sausage today, which sounded *darned* tasty to me, and while there could have been a *bit* more sausage, for $3, I wasn't complaining. The peppers themselves weren't just pretty...they were nicely prepared and pretty spicy! I really liked these, and the tomato/onion mix they were served with was good, too. Overall, the stuffed peppers were probably my favorite, *especially* at the $3 price point, and the serving size was pretty generous, I'd say.
The BOTD taco looked decent, and today's BOTD was pig. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by this, since I really wanted goat or lamb or even something gamey...you know, something different. The taco itself was fine, but nothing of major consequence to these taste buds. The pork had less flavor than I was expecting, but overall, it was decent. Again, for $3, it's hard to complain, and it isn't as though the whole thing wasn't consumed...it certainly was.
I was still hungry, so I decided to go for the burger as well. Now, I was *dead shocked* when I asked what the 5 oz. burger came with: bacon, cheese, and an egg! Can you imagine that? For $3!!! It's not a massive thing by any stretch, but I was impressed to find out that it's not just meat-and-bread, perhaps with a couple pickle slices or something. I don't care for cheese, and I wasn't in the mood for the egg, since my primary purpose was to evaluate the meat, but next time I'll have the egg, too! When the burger came, I chuckled to find that it was served on a plain english muffin, but it more than did its job. The beef was very nicely prepared, good and juicy, and the bacon was pretty good, too, though I'll ask for the bacon to be more crisp next time. For $3, this thing's an absolute *steal*. Idea: before you go to the Tigers game, go here, order a couple of these bad boys, and maybe a stuffed pepper plate, and split it between two of you or something. It would take two of the burgers to satisfy me, but that's just $6...well worth it. Impressive, even if I still liked the stuffed peppers a bit better. This is a darned good burger: simple, well-made, affordable, and well-appointed. If only I liked cheese...
While I could have stopped there, I decided that, yes, for $3, I was going to order the Chicken Livers & Polenta. I've never been a big fan of eating filters (though a good foie gras can be the fantastic exception), and this dish didn't do anything to change my mind. I don't care much for the texture or the taste, and the polenta wasn't anything special to my tongue, either. The mushrooms that came with them, though...now *those* I ate every one of! There weren't many, and most of the dish went uneaten, but again: it was $3, and I was curious. Having tried it, I wouldn't order it again, but the mushrooms, were, indeed, delicious.
So, having had four of the six menu items off the cocktail hour menu, I'd give them a thumbs-up, generally speaking, some more than others, obviously. Didn't want a scotch egg, and wouldn't eat Mac & Cheese if you were paying me. Service was decent, atmosphere was very nice, and the food was pretty darned good. At the price point they're at during cocktail hour, they're very affordable, even just to try something to see if you like it. I'm going back, if only for the burger(s) and stuffed peppers again, and I'm *really* wanting to try the goat. You guessed it: there, on the spit to be tomorrow's Beast of the Day, was a young goat, turning, turning, and turning...hypnotically so. Color me intrigued.
This positive impression makes me think more positively about going back and having actual full dinner service. I was a bit surprised that onions were difficult-to-come-by with the burger (I ended up getting some pink pickled onions with mine, which served their purpose), but when they're giving you 5 oz. of really good beef, some bacon, an egg, and cheese on a bun, it's hard to say anything about a lack of onion.
Hope they call Forte and learn how to make a Sweettart Martini, though...I really could have gone for one of those!