Best Restaurants of New York: Roll n Roaster

Labor Day I celebrated the end of the summer by driving out to Roll n Roaster in Sheepshead Bay with Kim. It's a very hard place to get to without a car, so I was lucky that Kim was curious enough about my enthusiasm for getting out there to offer to drive. Or agree to drive.

This is the front of the restaurant, not the best picture as it was taken as we were driving past.

So what's Roll n Roaster and was I so intent on getting out to it? I suggest watching this old ad of theirs (which they still run on TV), I might not need to explain anything else about it once you've seen it:

Ok, I'll still explain myself: Roll n Roaster is a one of a kind fast food roast beef place that opened 45 years ago and does not seem to have changed at all since it opened its doors, or at least since they filmed that commercial. The decor today? Just like the commercial. The uniforms? Just like the commercial. The food? Just like the video. When I first moved to the city there was a Roll n Roaster across the street from Webster Hall that I ate at a couple of times, it definitely felt like the branch of a chain from yesteryear, I didn't realize it was the lone additional outpost of an absolute classic. A year or two ago I got a bug in my brain about heading out to the original Roll n Roaster and, well, like I was telling you, that dream came true on Labor Day.

We approached from the rear. Check out that signage there by the bike rack: ride your bike to Roll n Roaster and they'll give you a free bottle of water! And they've got an air pump for filling your tires, what a class act place.

And here we have the main dining room...stepping in you might experience some very strong flashbacks to getting fast food in the 80's feelings, if that's a thing you ever did. There's even something about the smell in there that's kind of vintage (that's not a jab at the sanitation level at all, everything in there is A+), like maybe they fry in a kind of oil that no one uses anymore or something. And dig these amazing beams and chandeliers! It's too good!

Another look at the menu board. Look closely, you can order a bottle of champagne for your meal, if you'd like.

They cook everything to order and they tell you you're going to have to wait, but really the wait wasn't so bad. Some things I observed while waiting:

A wall of fame, with some repetition.

At last, our haul:

Note the dill chip-cut fries and fried chicken, because I forgot to take any more pictures of them. The fries aren't spectacular, but whatever. The chicken, however, was excellently crisp and tasty. Could stand on its own merits, Roll n Roaster could drop the roast beef sandwiches and be a chicken place if they wanted to...but...

Holy Smokes this Roast Beef!

This is some perfection right here. Well-gravied and topped with sautéed onions (if you ask for them), Kim accurately described it as more of a French dip on a roll than anything. And it's delicious.

You've also got the option of having it slathered with melted cheese, but I opted for a cup of cheese on the side, so I could cheese everything as I pleased. I'd say your Roll n Roaster roast beef experience wouldn't be incomplete without the cheese, but it certainly doesn't hurt either. A much bigger star at our table: Their house buffalo sauce which, hey, is probably just Franks with butter mixed in, but the butter is in there! (I know because our cup needed a little finishing-off mixing).

Meal complete. At the time I felt beyond satisfied and disinclined from finishing off the last piece of chicken, about an hour later I was thinking "Hmmm, maybe I should've had a second sandwich?" I think that's the Roll n Roaster greatness right there, no matter how much you eat, a little while later you'll be wishing you had had more. Strongest possible recommendation for this place, that's why I gave this post the "Best Restaurants in New York" clickbait title...you'll see me using that from now on when I A) Am trying hard to get you to read my blog and B) Have a "Drop whatever you're doing and GO!" recommendation to make.

Until next time, Roll n Roaster girl!

August in Summary

What? Can you believe it? I'm dropping my August summary on the first day of September?! Yo, when it's blogging time, it's blogging time. Here's what happened in August besides Andrew visiting!

One early-August evening I went with Patricia to see this Australian movie called "Girl Asleep" at the Socrates Sculpture Park as part of their Film Forum summer movie series. The movie was fun, a nice companion piece to Hunt for the Wilderpeople in someways (although I wouldn't know that for a few more weeks), the location was great, and then there were tacos to go eat afterwards at Los Portales. Perfect!

One Thursday night I went down to the new little Mile End at the food hall by Grand Central because I had heard they have corn dogs. Well, they do and they're small...a half hot dog each. If you don't buy two, you're not nearly getting a meal. The hot dogs were of a snappingly good quality, the batter delicious and everything fried before my eyes. But still, too small. Just charge me a lot of a big normal corn dog, please, Mile End. I'd rather do that than buy two little ones. They look like hors d'ouevres.  

One lucky Friday night Victoria asked me if I wanted to come along to a free M Ward concert. Yeah I did! I hadn't seen M Ward live in 12 years (sheesh), and what an event that was because he was an opening act for a show at the Jersey Loew's, which has grown to become my favorite place in the city (even if it's in Jersey City.)

The next day, a Saturday, I could hear there was quite the ruckus going on outside. Turns out there were three different events happening outside my house.

First, a block party to my north.

Then a major community Salsa gathering to my south

Salsa has certainly never been my jam, but this particular party had me at least momentarily rethinking my jams.

And to the east, a big street fair

Last Saturday, or the one below, I met up with Andrea and Victoria and Orlando, Andrea's brother, in the Rockaways.

This last Sunday night Kristin hosted a going away party for Christian and Kimberly before they go off to BYU Idaho. Kimberly is going back now that she's finished her mission in Chicago, but Christian is heading off to start his Freshman year, to chase that degree and see what the future holds for him. Having tutored Christian since he was in 8th grade it absolutely blows my mind that he's heading off to college. I 100% can't believe it...I mean, I know he had it in him, but it's still crazy.

"We look like bachelors!" - Christian, when he sees this picture

You know, even though I was the tutor, it's not like Christian didn't teach me anything. I had never heard of a Chopped Cheese before going to a deli with him. Now I'm Chopped Cheese 'til I die.

Monday Christian came over so I could give him my gigantic suitcase that is too big to use for anything except heading off to college. We do not know what the future might hold for Christian, but we do know that he'll have something enormous to hold it in.

But, hey, don't be feeling sad for me about Christian leaving. Because August wasn't just a month for goodbyes, I also said "Hello" to the Ranchera Torta from Don Paco's Tortas, which I have been walking by for months and months if not years and years and finally went into this week. Don Paco and I, we've got to make up for a lot of lost time now.