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DINING OUT

Plymouth's Roobar offers upscale fare without pretentions

Roobar
10 Cordage Park, Plymouth
Telephone: 508-746-4300
Dinner, 5-10 p.m.; bar open, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. daily
Wheelchair accessible
Major credit cards accepted

Roobar is all about the unexpected in a sophisticated, sexy-chic kind of way.

Take the dining room's bold decor. Color and texture mingle in a lively blend of reds, yellows, and purples -- a choice that comes off as creative, not at all gaudy, thanks to the soft lighting that lends an air of intimacy to the 150-seat restaurant and 30-foot bar. At center stage is its dramatic open kitchen featuring a wood-fired oven made of beach stone, of all things -- another decorative surprise that works.

Roobar is upscale, all right, but it all feels more whimsical than snooty. Executive chef Tim Miller, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, extends that sense of fun to his innovative menu. Where else would you find a brick-wrapped ``mac-n-cheese" appetizer with mini tomato green onion salad ($7) or an entree featuring a maple glazed center cut pork chop with ``Mom's scalloped potatoes," wilted spinach, and coarse mustard sauce ($19)?

And where else can you feed your appetite and your spirit, too? This latest Roobar, in North Plymouth's Cordage Park, is the fourth, with three others located on the Cape. Owner Dana Heilman, a relative of the late Christopher and Dana Reeve, says he donates part of the restaurants' profits to the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which supports spinal cord injury patients and research.

On the recent Sunday evening we visited, the dining room was nearly empty. But our friendly and attentive server assured us business was bustling the night before.

After enjoying a cosmo from the martini menu (an extensive wine list is also available), we started with an interesting sounding appetizer : the crunchy barbecue native lobster taco with homemade guacamole, Key lime vegetable slaw, sauce verde, and seasoned sour cream ($14).

In short, it was a delight. Nicely presented on a white triangular plate sprinkled with chili powder, the dish contained large pieces of succulent lobster claw meat and chunks of just-ripe avocado in a crisp taco shell. Never overpowered by its sauces, the dish was a successful blend of color, texture, and flavors, as well as geography (Mexico taco, New England lobster, Florida Key lime). Definitely try it.

Another hit was one of our entrees , the crunchy Creole rainbow trout with local lobster, wilted frisee, and grilled onion salad, sauce verde, and remoulade ($22). The tender, sweet fish filet is coated in a crunchy batter and topped with a mound of the aforementioned lobster, along with a pinkish remoulade , reminiscent of a lemony tartar sauce , and the tasty green sauce.

But before we tried that, we ordered two satisfying salads. The traditional Caesar ($7) was zestier than most, with lots of lemon , and garlic , and anchovies, as ordered. Especially good was the summer heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella salad with fresh basil, olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar (somewhat thicker than usual), and slivered red onion ($10). It featured some of the sweetest, juiciest tomatoes we've had the pleasure of eating all summer. And that's saying something, since we grow our own. Both salads were large and could easily serve as a light meal. Roobar also offers a large selection of gourmet pizzas.

We also sampled a vegetarian entree, the spinach and goat cheese ravioli with Brandywine Valley mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, capers, and garlic, topped with grated Romano ($18). In this dish, green pasta ovals are packed with creamy, rich goat cheese. The earthiness of the meaty mushrooms is offset by the tomatoes' sweetness. All that cheese is pretty heavy, though. We wound up taking most of the ample dish home for lunch the next day.

For dessert, we ordered the cappuccino cheesecake ($7). The light, creamy concoction had just the right mocha flavor and was more like pudding in texture than cake. It came with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate and coffee sauce, and a strawberry half to top it all off.

KAREN HAYES

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