Though the Tribune critic enjoyed the tasting menu, Phil Vettel recommends the a la carte experience over at Roister, the Fulton Market restaurant from the Alinea Group. That's where "just about everything [chef Andrew] Brochu sends out is delicious," though "plate artistry is not high among his priorities."
But pretty plates aren't Roister's bag. The loud music appears in part to make the concept difficult to succinctly explain, but Vettel doles out three stars, and he suggests visitors should bring friends and share the menu. He contrasts Roister to elder sibling Alinea, noting that diners will spend less money at the new restaurant: "the only thing louder than the overhead music might be the sigh of relief from your wallet."
But the so-called affordability doesn't mean quality has sagged. The sourdough pancake impressed Vettel, writing that ingredients like marinated mussels, mustard custard, peas and pea shoots "take to each other like old friends." There's also the decadence known as the A-5 Japanese Wagyu steak: "it's so insanely rich, one of my dining companions wondered aloud if the restaurant had a defibrillator standing by."
In related news, Roister debuts its prep kitchen experience on Wednesday, as tickets already went on sale over the weekend. Vettel's review didn't cover the downstairs space, which is illuminated with orange lights. There's 12 prep kitchen bar seats where diners can watch staff work. Management is still developing uses for the basement, which may eventually host late-night meals past midnight. Previously on the lower level, visitors saw sous vide tanks and food containers stored in plain sight.
UPDATE: Roister/Alinea Group's Nick Kokonas said Roister's tasting room will move to the basement. For the next two weeks they'll experiment on the main floor, as the menu there will center on items prepped on the hearth. Kokonas wrote that the lower level should be a "more refined" and "elevated experience."