When I first got an invite to try out Roland's on 4th, I immediately Google mapped it. Oh okay, it took over the old location of Hell's Kitchen... Honestly, my memory of Hell's Kitchen was vague at best (probably not memorable at all), so I guess the changeover was inevitable. With a different approach that stresses the importance of things made-in-house, Roland's tries to offer a little of something for everyone as exemplified on their diverse menu. For this food adventure, I enlisted the help of both Miss Y and Whipping Girl.
Of all things, Miss Y wanted something with vegetables to start (curse you Miss Y!), so we began with the Oven Roasted Beet Salad with slices of red beets, arugula, feta cheese, and mango onion salsa. The tender slices of beets were slightly tart, smoky and sweet. However, to change things up a bit, there was an acidic spiciness from the salsa that livened up the flavours significantly. With the saltiness from the cheese, there was a good balance. Next up we tried the Braised Beef Poutine consisting of home-cut fries, true Quebec cheese curds and beef in a red wine demi. We really liked this dish as the demi was flavourful and rich with a definite red wine essence. The beef itself was super tender and moist. Although the fries were a little dark, they were crispy and starchy.
Next, at the insistence of Whipping Girl, we tried the Mussels in a red coconut curry served with a French baguette. I swear she could eat mussels everyday and be happy... Anyways, the "broth" was more like a thick sauce meant for a side of rice. That wasn't a bad thing though as the abundance of coconut milk ensured that it was creamy and aromatic. There was no absence of spice either as the flavours ended off with a lingering kick. The honey mussels were buttery and plump where they exhibited their own natural sweetness. Trying to sample something from every section, we got their 5-Spice Duck Pizza with spiced duck breast, red pepper, red onion, crushed wonton, mozzarella, ketjap manis, sweet chilli sauce and cilantro. We found the crust to be thin, chewy and a touch dry. The combination of ketjap manis and sweet chili emulated an almost hoisin effect except not as sweet, rather with more tartness. The duck was meaty and 5-spiced as advertised with a hint of anise and cinnamon.
Onto an interesting concoction, we sampled the Showbiz Burger consisting of an in-house made 8oz beef patty, jalapeño bottle caps, crispy prosciutto, mac n’ cheese patty, aged cheddar, onion tanglers and roasted garlic aioli on a fresh baked bun served with a deep fried pickle. Although the patty was not overcooked, it was still on the dry side (possibly being too lean). We liked the idea of the fried onions, but they were a bit hard. The spicy tart pop of the fried jalapeños was memorable and probably the most impactful ingredient. For me, I had to get the Braised Lamb Shank slow roasted in red wine and herbs with potato anna, red cabbage and lemon wilted kale. The meat fell-off-the-bone and was gelatinous and moist (except for some exterior portions). The red wine jus was impactful and was unmistakably wine tasting (with no alcoholic aftertaste). Although only a side, the kale was really good being bright and acidic.
Lastly, for dessert we tried the Cookie Sliders and Moochie Banana. Up until this point, the food was pretty decent, however, the desserts were quite pedestrian. The cookie sliders were almost an afterthought with in‐house baked chocolate chip cookies topped with ice cream that were drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce. Not bad, but not something anyone could do at home. As for the banana fritter, it was okay with a crunchy exterior and a combination of banana and chocolate on the inside. It was pleasant and not overly sweet. Overall, the meal was pleasant enough at reasonable prices. The only weak spot was the desserts.
*All food and beverages were comped excluding gratuities*
- Okay portion sizes
- Decent eats
- Desserts need to be elevated