Rosine’s Rotisserie and Grill

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Posted June 11, 2008 in Eats

It’s 7PM Saturday night, a time in which the post matinee and pre-twilight movie buffs should be hitting Rosine’s Rotisserie and Grill (located right next door), making seating difficult or near difficult at best. But when I walk in with reservation in hand, I notice booths, tables, and patio seating aplenty. That’s because the non-adventurous types are paying $10 to mess with the Zohan and have defected to one of the neighboring fast food joints, their bravery yet to be piqued by something quasi-exotic. 

Not that I blame them. After all, Mediterranean (more accurately, Middle Eastern in this case) cuisine is an acquired taste, a food designed for sophisticated, well-traveled palates or foreign tongues bred on the amalgamation of unfamiliar herbs and spices. Though a bit pricey, Rosine’s makes the Middle East accessible to neophytes—so mild its flavors and textures, so helpful its staff in ferreting out answers to perplexed looks—that comfort prevails and one feels right at home regardless if the sight and smells seem at first foreign. 

 

Once seated at a table for two set closely to the well-appointed bar and impressive wine cellar, multinational cast interspersed throughout the burgundy and honey dining room, I start with the Mezzeh ($14). This veggie combo comprised of hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghannouj, muhammara, sarma and served with a warm basket of pita is a great way to sample tidbits off the appetizer menu. The sensuous muhammara, a crunchy walnut pâté, alternates sweet, spicy, fruity, and savory layers, seducing and caressing the taste buds long after it’s disappeared. The lemony tabbouleh, a diced parsley salad with Roma tomatoes and bulgur, provides a refreshing contrast to the other components, scoring huge brownie points with my vegetable-challenged dining companion. The sarma (grape leaves rolled in herbed rice) has a pleasing acidity, though my dining partner finds it slightly overwhelming.

 

For entrées, we skip the popular rotisserie chicken with super secret garlic sauce and again go the route of sampling a little of everything with the Ultimate Kebab ($32), a platter for two that features the best of Rosine’s grill menu—chunks of lamb, tenderloin (filet mignon), chicken, and minced lamb and beef luleh kebabs accompanied by a generous heap of garlic mashed potatoes, two skewers of grilled veggies, and rice pilaf. The battle of kebabs really comes down to two—the juicy luleh and succulent filet mignon skewers, grilled to perfection with a slight tinge of pink in the middle. The slightly drier lamb kebab is edible, albeit a bit tough, while the chicken was a bit bland if not for its herbaceous yogurt dressing.  

 

More hummus and a lemon and cayenne-infused mayonnaise accompany our main entrée. Our waitress lets on that the staff often mixes the mayonnaise in with the rice pilaf as their lunch entrée, so I give the mayonnaise a go and find the rice enhanced by a tangy punch. Interestingly enough, the mayonnaise also marries well with the chicken.

 

We dust off dinner with homemade baklavas ($6). The traditional baklava, layered by walnuts and cinnamon, is undeniably rich, in stark contrast to Rosine’s baklava, a light and airy phyllo pastry stuffed with a hardened custard that’s not as gratifying to the sweet tooth as its counterpart, but equally tasty.

 

It’s safe to say that Rosine’s makes the exotic seem less intimidating and more appealing to newcomers. I’ve had Mediterranean food that’s more heavily spiced, but none of this takes away from the cuisine here, as the flavors of the Middle East and Mediterranean entice and shine through just as boldly, Rosine’s way.  

 

Rosine’s Rotisserie & Grill, 2670 Tuscany Rd., Corona; (951) 372-9484. Dinner For Two, $64. Open Daily: Mon.–Thurs., 11AM–9PM; Fri., 11AM–10PM; Sat., Noon–10PM; Sun., Noon–9PM. AE, D, MC, V


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