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Roofers Union, American with GM and Beer Monger Dave Delaplaine in the Former Reef Space in Adams Morgan


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After an absence of a few years, my wife and I found ourselves in our old Adams Morgan haunt on Saturday night. A few times around the block looking for parking, a conversation about whether this or that was gone or new, and a stop at Fleet Feet for running shoes, and we were ready for dinner. Between the snow and Valentine's Day, I suspect the opening of Roofers Union had escaped many peoples' attention, so we were able to get a last minute reservation despite it being Saturday night in Adams Morgan.

First, a word on the space.  It's beautiful.  The second floor facade of floor-to-ceiling arched windows provides the best possible view of the bustle below on 18th Street.  The room is wide open with a rustic chic feel nodding to the blue collar namesake of the restaurant.  My wife thought that the roofers' jumpsuits hanging on one wall was a bit too literal a nod, but that's a minor complaint.  The ceilings are high and the surfaces hard, so this is not a quiet room but that's excusable given the bar vibe of the restaurant.

(One oddity: the two-top tables are too long, making conversation a bit difficult.  As a consequence, the couple next to us were sitting at a right angle to each other rather than face-to-face.  Again, not a major complaint, but these are not cozy, romantic tables.)

As for the food, we enjoyed everything we tried (I'm going off of the menu that I found online, so some elements we actually had may have been different).  This is not life-changing, transcendental food, but it is well-executed upscale comfort/bar food.  We started with two "Snacks." First, deep-fried brussel sprout leaves with lemon and honey.  These were very tasty, though primarily because anything deep fried is good.  I didn't taste much lemon or honey, but I did taste lots of good oil.  I thought they were a bit over-fried, but I could have eaten a lot of these.

Then, we got the roasted cauliflower with mint and pine nuts.  There was also a crumbled cheese in the mix--perhaps ricotta--that was not on the menu.  Again, I'd say I mostly tasted the very good roasted cauliflower as opposed to the other elements of the dish, but that wasn't a bad thing. Roasted cauliflower is a great thing, and this is a fine rendition.

We skipped over the "Stuffed" (i.e., house-made sausages) and "Stacked" (i.e., sandwiches) parts of the menu to get to the "Simple."  Here, we opted for the beer-steamed mussels with andouille and chili served with a pretzel roll on the side.  The mussels were fine, but I thought the broth was had a bit of a one-note chili character  I like spicy food, and the level of spice was moderate but I didn't detect much andouille.  Again, I was happy eating this, but it could be even better with a bit of tweaking.  (The pretzel roll, on the other hand, should not be tweaked at all.  It was great.)

Finally, we tried the 1/2 brick chicken with smashed fingerling potatoes and arugula (there were also some roasted tomatoes on the plate, though I don't think they were listed on the menu).  This was a very satisfying plate of food.  The chicken was perfectly done with the nicely charred skin that one expects of chicken under a brick, and the potatoes were a terrific side. The greens were a bit over-wilted from sitting directly under the chicken, but again, I think that's something easily rectified.

We closed the evening by splitting a sundae of vanilla ice cream with fudge and pretzel praline.  What can I say?  It was a good sundae, but I don't encounter t many sundaes I don't like.  Unfortunately, their coffee/espresso machine is not yet installed because I sure would have loved a double espresso with that sundae.

For drinks, we both had cocktails to start.  I don't recall their names, but I had a rye based cocktail (loosely resembling a Manhattan) while my wife had a bourbon/fruit/soda concoction.  Both were the creative, delicious concoctions that we've come to expect from the Ripple team.  I also had a glass of sauvignon blanc with my dinner that was perfectly fine, if not perfectly memorable.

Finally, service:  the service was terrific, and it was clear a lot of effort went into training up the staff before the opening.  If anything, the service was too good.  Food arrived very quickly, more quickly than we frankly would have preferred.  I suspect that service will reach an excellent equilibrium once everybody settles in a bit and exhales from the initial rush of opening.

All in all, we concluded that this is a place we would definitely visit again, even if we won't necessarily go out of our way to deal with parking in Adams Morgan to eat here.  If we still lived in Adams Morgan, I have no doubt that we would visit Roofers Union frequently.  And perhaps that's what Roofers Union ultimately is:  a very good neighborhood joint (one of the best in this particular neighborhood) that doesn't need to be anything more than that to be an excellent addition to the dining scene.

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Ate there on Tuesday.  Left with mixed feelings.  I like the space, and the renovation was well done.  I had a solid Old Fashioned, and the beers on tap are impressive, and the one I had was tasty (if served a bit warm).

General consensus among my friends was that the food was just ok.  Almost typical bar food.  We shared the roasted cauliflower, which we were told was served room-temp. What we got was an ice cold dish of cauliflower right out of the refrigerator.  If it was room temp it may have had some good flavor.  Cold, it was tasteless.

I ordered the home-made chicken sausage with taleggio cheese and mushrooms in a pretzel roll.  I asked if I could sub the chips it was served with for an order of the onion rings, and said I understood there would be a charge (the rings are $7).  I also said, please don't bring me the chips, as I want the rings as a side.  A friend ordered the chicken wings, and another ordered the Brat, and a side of sweet potato fries.

I was surprised when the wings and the onion rings came out first.  The wings I understand -- they are from the snacks portion of the menu.  The rings were a mystery as they were from the sides part of the menu and I had specifically said that I wanted them with the sausage.  Our server disappeared, so I was not able to say anything, so I just ate them so they wouldn't get cold.  Just as I finished, my sausage came, as did my friend's sausage and fries (apparently the notion of fries as a side made sense with her sausage, but not mine?).  Both of our sausages came with chips, even though we both said we didn't want them.  No big deal, but a waste.

My friend's sausage was undercooked, almost raw in the middle, but she ate it anyway since none of us are squeamish and it was pork-based.  She said it was fine, but not in any way special -- a garden variety bar sausage.  My chicken sausage was very bland, with no hint of the taleggio, and with soggy, tasteless mushrooms.  The pretzel roll was hard.  I had to flag someone down and ask for mustard to put on the sausage to impart any flavor, and I was really not happy with my choice.

Our other friend liked the chicken wings.  Also, some of the larger plates (the brick chicken) going by looked good.  Service was strange, inattentive, and our server had virtually no personality -- we saw other tables get better service with more enthusiasm (i.e. explaining the new restaurant, talking about the chef) so I think we just got a dud.

The general consensus was that this is a good place to go for a drink, and you should expect no better than typical bar food.

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Ate here last week with a friend.  Similar to the comments above, we found the room to be beautiful (and almost empty on a Thursday night the entire time we were there).  The food was a bit of a mixed bag.  We each started with the Crispy Pig Ear salad.  My friend really enjoyed hers, I thought the greens were a bit too bitter and would have liked a mix of some less bitter greens in the salad.  The soft egg on top was nice...I believe this was poached and not sous vide (just a guess based on the thickness of the white), but I do love a soft cooked egg over a salad.

In addition to her salad, KL enjoyed her soft shelled crab.  This isn't on the online menu, but was available in either a small (1 crab) or large (I'm guessing 2 crabs) size.  She thought her sweet potato fries were just meh.

The piri piri prawns were the stand out.  These were happily not head-on as the online menu suggests, but they were very large, sweet and perfectly cooked.  My side of onion rings was better than the fries, but not something I'm likely to order again.

All in, we liked the casual vibe of the restaurant and the space is quite nice.  Given we both live in MoCo, neither of us thought the place worthy of a special trip into town, but is definitely a place I would visit occasionally if I lived in the area.

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Compromise choice for four of us tonight. By compromise, I mean they had the NCAA Semis on multiple screens and, maybe, just maybe, better food than typical bars? Know some of my fellow posters upthread thought it "typical bar food."

We also had a "mixed" experience but maybe better than typical bar food imo.

Sausages were fine and cooked properly with good flavor. Likewise the cheeseburger. Fries looked excellent (brown even with ax slight bit of char) and decently seasoned but limp; really no trace of crispness. A starting order of BBQ wings also just okay with the salt dueling some with the sauce. Brussel sprouts are ubiquitous, even moreso than shishito peppers, but the ones here tonight were executed properly as do many places don't do. Plenty of lemon and parm and...nicelt charred. The deconstructed lemon meringue with raspberry sorbet was just ok. Nice beer list. Our home brewing friends were pleased.

Service was also mixed.

On one hand, consistently friendly but, on the other, not always around and very uncoordinated with each other.

On one hand, totally forgot an app and, even once reminded, couldn't get it out within 15-20 min (well past the mains dropping). On the other hand, because we canceled it, they not only took that off the bill but also comp'ed a dessert.

On one hand, waters were kept full. On the other, an iced tea wasn't.

I remember enjoying this a bit more last time I was here, maybe ten months ago. Isn't Marjorie Meek-Bradley nominally over this in terms of being the named chef and menu designer (though obviously cooking at Ripple)?

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