253 25th St., Ogden ; 801-627-6171
Good food and beer are the best reasons to visit.
Hours: M-Th, 11 am-10 pm; F, 11 am-11 pm; S, 10 am-11 pm; Su, 10 am-10 pm
Recommended Dishes: Baked cheese, artichoke and crab dip; pizzas.
October 10, 2003
With great food, drink and décor, Roosters has reason to crow
By Nancy Hobbs
OGDEN -- Historic 25th Street, in what used to be known as "Junction City," is still wide enough to turn a horse and buggy, and if not for the asphalt spanning its width, one might expect to see such a thing. Buildings more than a century old line both sides of the street for several blocks east of impressive Union Station, and thanks to a decade of renovation, most of them look as classic and classy as they must have at the turn of the 20th century.
That was the era when more than 100 passenger trains passed through town daily, and where visitors and townsfolk went to gamble, drink and carouse.
The blocks are a town hotspot today, and Roosters 25th Street Brewing Co. has some of the best libations in town. The microbrewery has six homemade brews on tap every day, including two seasonal picks and four signature brews by brewmaster Steve Kirkland.
It's hardly all drink, however. Chef and owner Peter Buttschardt has created a menu of pizzas, sandwiches and diverse entrées that goes way beyond usual pub fare.
Some of the best he has to offer, based on a couple of recent visits, are starters large enough to share among several people. Especially good was the baked cheese, artichoke heart and crab dip -- aptly called What a Crock -- served hot with slices of French baguette ($6.25). The grilled risotto cake sampler ($7.95) was impressive, with each of three cakes given its own topping -- grilled shrimp, wild mushrooms and a large sea scallop -- and encircled by different sauces. The delectable saffron cream sauce was consumed quickly, with the slightly spicy tomato coulis a close second. The third sauce, a hollandaise, was good but ordinary, compared with the others.
We also enjoyed the hummus platter, an attractive display of toasted pita triangles topped with sliced sundried tomatoes and black olives, surrounding a crock of traditional hummus and a bowl of puréed roasted garlic and pine nuts ($6.95).
The latter was a perfect complement to the seasonal Leghorn Lager, but also would have been good with the staple Bee's Knees Honey Wheat, the brewery's top seller along with its Junction City Chocolate Stout. Two-Bit Amber Ale is also a Roosters staple, as is the Polygamy Pale Ale, which Buttschardt pointed out was one of the brewery's earliest successes, making its debut in 1996, long before another Utah brew with a similar name.
(Roosters brews also are sold at other bars and diners around the state, including Brewvies and Martine in Salt Lake City.)
When it comes to dinner, choosing from the wide variety is a challenge.
For fish and chips, Roosters dips cod in a homemade beer batter and fries it crisply on the outside, leaving sweet, flaky fish in the middle ($8.95). The accompanying fries were crisp, not greasy, and the tartar sauce was fresh and light.
The sandwich menu boasts some terrific options, such as chicken milanese with a parmesan-bread crumb coating served open-faced with diced tomatoes and a lemon aioli ($6.95) or the ever-popular brewhouse burger ($5.95), served with cheddar or bleu cheese, bacon or even two 1/3-pound patties. We chose the blackened salmon on focaccia ($7.95), which was delicious. It was a bit on the spicy side, especially given the addition of pepper-jack cheese.
Kym's capellini ($8.95), touted as "lighter fare," was ample and tasty. The pasta was tossed with garlicky olive oil, then topped with fresh and roasted tomatoes, fragrant fresh basil and a lot of feta cheese.
The only disappointment on our visits was the Asian chicken salad: fresh mesclun tossed with a soy-ginger vinaigrette lacking in flavor and quantity (even for someone who likes minimal dressing), and a dry piece of grilled chicken. One of the nice things about Asian salads is the textural variety, but there was nothing in this to add some crunch, such as almonds or crispy noodles.
Although there is more than enough to choose from on the Roosters menus, which vary only slightly from lunch to dinner, I realized too late that there is a blackboard listing of specials that can't be seen from some seats in the restaurant. Unfortunately, our servers on both visits failed to mention any specials, some of which sounded intriguing, although service otherwise was attentive.
Tasty food and beer are the best reasons to try Roosters, but it would be an oversight not to mention the playful decorations, friendly atmosphere and great historical setting. Although it has been gutted and renovated from 104 years ago when it was a laundry patronized by miners and then a state liquor store, the building's old brick exterior has been artfully used inside to look as though the winding staircase and long bar were part of the original.
Patio seating, including a glass-enclosed area for year-round enjoyment, is situated in what looks to have been an alley between the Roosters building and the equally old neighboring building. The small gardens are decorated with metal art and surrounded by borders made of recycled kitchen utensils. Old, painted window frames hang on the outdoor patio walls, and whimsical artwork is displayed throughout the establishment.
Credit for the décor, Buttschardt says, goes to his co-owners, Judy Imlay -- the artistic force -- and her husband Jim, a steel contractor who made Roosters' funky chairs and tables.