Former Drake Hotel chef Anthony Rose puts down roots at Dupont and Davenport.
It’s been about three months since chef Anthony Rose opened his 30-seat diner, Rose and Sons, on a sleepy strip of Dupont. On a recent afternoon, an older man in jogging shorts mulls over a crossword during brunch; Rose, with a towel slung over his shoulder, introduces himself to diners; and our server, Su, exhibits a solid mental database of her customers’ orders (she’ll remember what you had even if it was weeks ago). It’s that fuzzy neighbourhood feeling—as well as Rose’s decision to leave the space largely untouched from its previous incarnation as the half-century-old People’s Foods—that makes Rose and Sons seem like a decades-old diner.
This is Rose’s first restaurant after six years as the executive chef of the Drake Hotel, and he’s hoping to open two more. His food is heavy and filling. “There’s a lot of my past in there,” he says of the menu, which includes lox and bagels, schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), and brisket. Former Drake sous chef Chris Sanderson mans the tiny open kitchen (if you can call it that—it’s basically a flat-top griddle), along with Pierre LeBrun. “It’s the s— I grew up with,” says Rose. “It’s hearty food, rustic food, and bone-sticking food. We’re trying to remake simple food but put extra love and goodness into it.” Diners familiar with Rose’s cooking at the Drake will know that by “goodness,” he means “bacon.”
Whole slabs of it are marinated overnight with rosemary, thyme, garlic, chilies, and Dr. Pepper, then cooked sous vide for up to four hours. It’s sliced thick and fried on the griddle. Try it in the glorious PLB special melt (named after LeBrun) at lunch: a runny fried egg, sausage, melted cheddar, pickle, and fried onions stacked between two slices of Thuet bread with a side of sour-cherry jam ($13). The Dr. Bacon is also on the Happy Pork Plate ($26) along with a pork chop, Polish sausage, apple sauce, pickle, and mustard. You can also add it to the bread pudding for an extra three bucks. “You see all these trend lists saying bacon is going away, but hasn’t bacon always been trendy?” asks Rose. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve always been doing.” Rounding out the menu are diner classics like the patty melt—the grilled-cheese burger that fuels truck drivers across America. It’s perfectly pink in the middle and served with thick-cut fries and chili mayo ($15). Fried chicken comes in two courses: crunchy battered wings followed by three boneless buttermilk chicken thighs atop a plate of spaghetti Alfredo. You have to plunk down $36 for it, but this is low-brow at its high-browest. Unlike at a traditional diner, the menu is always in flux here. “Every week we look at the winners and losers and see what needs changing,” says Rose. “There’s the other side of me where if something sells too well and gets too mainstream, we take it away and make it more f—ed up.” It’s a fuzzy, neighbourhood feeling…with edge.
Rose and Sons, 176 Dupont St., 647-748-3287.