Strangely, The Meat is the Worst Part About Roast Kitchen

Roast Kitchen opened last week and the name implies that it would be a great spot for a juicy succulent piece of meat. In reality, it’s pretty much a salad joint that offers meat toppings for $2.76. If you build your own bowl of greens or grains, that comes out to at least $12. That’s a little expensive for a bowl of salad, don’t you think?┬áThe good news is they do offer composed salad bowls for $9-$10. The bad news is the meat was the worst part of my two orders.

While waiting in a winding but brisk line to place my order, an employee was coming around with free samples of their shrimp (which is strangely not listed on the menu). The salad bar options were rather impressive with unusual ingredients like kabocha squash, sunchokes, and popcorn(!)

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First I tried their Roast Cobb salad, mostly because it came with herb marinated steak. The salad was pretty sweet, thanks mainly to coconut shreds that clung to orbs of walnut honey goat cheese. The greens were all fresh, but I’m not sure how this could be called a Cobb salad. Sure it had hard boiled eggs, but where was the bacon, the chicken, the blue cheese?

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The steak would have made up for the misnomer, except it was overcooked and bland. It didn’t have any pepper, char, or flavor. Amazingly, I didn’t finish the meat.

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I also got to try their Soba salad, which was a little lighter but featured shio-koji (pork butt!). Again, the meat was truly disappointing. It had some sweet, gingery flavors, but wasn’t nearly as tender as pork butt should be. Instead it was dry and chewy. The salad components were also on the sweet side but there was some nice crunch from corn kernels, sesame seeds, and wasabi peas.

If salad bars are your thing, this one seems to offer a nice variety and freshness. But if you’re more excited about topping those greens with as much delicious meat as possible, sadly, this is not the place for you.

Roast Kitchen, 740 Seventh Ave (at 49th St.), (212) 399-9100

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