Rood in Lakewood to launch Cafe Rood.
In March of 2020, Rood
(17001 Madison Ave., 216-712-4506) was just hitting its stride. The unique slider-and-pie shop in Lakewood was attracting local and regional attention for its food, setting and convivial dining style, one which encouraged diners to share food.
That all came to a screeching halt in mid-March thanks to Covid. In the age of social distancing, communal-style dining no longer seemed prudent and owner Brian Ruthsatz didn't believe that the situation would right itself anytime soon. He made the difficult decision to put Rood’s original menu and concept to bed.
“It wasn’t easy at the time, but I feel like I made the right decision now,” he explains. “Everybody thought Covid was going to be short and sweet and I just didn’t get that gut feeling.”
Because the menu wasn’t conceived for take-out business either, Rood switched its focus to the carry-out bakery side of things. Later, a spirited late-night dessert and cocktail series called Pie Bar rolled out to much success. Next up for the Lakewood shop was a new brunch service, which also quickly drew an audience.
“We always wanted to test out brunch and it really took off,” Ruthsatz says.
To support the new brunch business – an eventual return to dinner service – Ruthsatz began a search for a new chef. He lucked into a meeting with Rachelle Murphy, who he describes as a kind of wunderkind in the kitchen. At just 22, the chef already had run a restaurant kitchen in Michigan and travelled extensively.
A year later, Murphy is chef-partner and wowing customers with her creative, seasonal American dinner fare. Her menu shuns the ubiquitous flatbreads, tacos and burgers in favor of bold, fresh compositions like asparagus with creamy tarragon dressing, cured egg yolk and slivered almonds; spring onion gnocchi with creamy eggplant sauce; and pan-seared hog snapper with celeriac puree and chili-glazed bok choi.
Last spring, Rood discontinued the popular brunch in order to fully focus on dinner service – and as one can imagine, some customers felt slighted.
“Our brunch was so crazy-popular,” reports Ruthsatz.
While Rood is not bringing back its classic brunch, it is launching a new “morning café” service that Ruthsatz is calling Café Rood. The space lends itself to brunch, he notes, and the bakery already is in motion at that time of day.
“We do want to stretch the bakery’s wings and do some more unique café things,” he adds.
Wednesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., diners can come in to enjoy a sweet and savory lineup of chef-driven plates. Those items will be complemented by coffee service, bellinis, mimosas and cocktails.
In addition to the world-class pie, there will be items like pear and amaretto tarts; grilled banana bread topped with whipped ricotta, fresh berries, roasted pecans and honey; apple and bourbon coffee cake; and a few salads like that asparagus stunner.
“But the stars of the show are the toasts,” says Ruthsatz.
Built atop a thick slice of grilled sourdough, the open-face tartines will arrive topped with combos such as lox, lemon-and-dill cream cheese, pickled radish and crispy capers; beef tartare with whole-grain mustard and crème fraiche; and one with whipped cream ricotta, mushroom duxelles, mushroom ragout and crispy mushrooms.
This will be a full-service breakfast and lunch service that launches June 15.