The Rose & Thistle Pub & Restaurant in historic downtown Perrysburg is a cozy haunt.
Impossibly low lit; intoxicatingly perfumed by well-considered cuisine; relaxing despite whole attention at your table — or bar stool.
Without digressing too much, the bar at this corridor eatery is intimate to be sure but surprisingly bustling with ebullient guests and bright smiles. This is technically a pub with a 1 a.m. posted closing time, so maybe “surprisingly” is the wrong word.
R&T is a regular’s place. It is cosmopolitan but unpretentious. You’re a regular waiting to happen if you’re in the mood to be.
The restaurant was opened in 2001 by chef and interior architecture fanatic Lee Tebbetts. His passing in 2014 opened the way for his handpicked apprentice. Chef and owner Matthew Gustafson is well-seen and appears to have curated not just something that pleases his palate but also his eye. He likes being in his restaurant, in the kitchen and out. It’s so lovely in its modest detail that it is easy to see why.
On a few late-fall visits we experienced the same menu, though it is obvious by its spartan presentation that it does move around a seasonal rotation.
Classics dominate the menu. And if you didn’t try them, you may be tempted to think of the lineup as almost too straight ahead.
Escargots ($11) broiled with herbs and garlic butter, parmesan and herbed liver paté ($12), mushroom bisque ($7), mussels ($12), and chilled oysters (market price) are expected to be competent but not extraordinary. But with expertly chosen ingredients and surgical ratios of portion and seasoning, these dishes were par excellence.
The paté was a virile, insouciant red. This is not an entry level paté. It is a paté for paté lovers. The escargot and oysters were hearty but not grotesque or enlarged just for the sake of impression. All diners were compelled to share more than a bite.
Address: 203 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg
Category: Friendly fine dining
Menu: American/European classics
Hours: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$$
Credit Cards: MC, V, D, AE
Salads at R&T are not to be skipped, and if you’re a Caesar salad purist, you may be asking for a side of the dressing to take home — yes, anchovy lovers, this is you.
Georges Bank sea scallops ($31) with parmesan and crumbled bacon with a side of asparagus and red pepper, and the New York strip steak (14 ounces, $36) with a side of broiled potatoes and green beans and red pepper were the favorite main courses. Again, the ingredients didn’t just headline, they starred in a focused spotlight. A beef Wellington ($36) that actually had some pop and taut resistance was adored by a diner who championed the dish.
Seared ahi ($31) with polenta and broccolini and red pepper was not bad, but certainly was the disappointment. Unlike the other courses, it gulped for air under a blanket of sauce and seasoning. Red pepper haunted almost every entrée, but it embarrassed this dignified cut of ahi tuna.
Classic crème brulee ($7), dark chocolate mousse ($7), and homemade salted caramel ice cream with walnuts ($6) each astounded in unexpected ways by shear virtue of integrity.
The R&T is a place your parents take you, a place where you take a first date, a place to pop in with your love for Friday date night, or a place where you take your grown children.
The only caveats were in R&T trying to hit all the high notes of haute cuisine. We did find many ingredients local and seasonal, but not in entirety. Truly the only thing holding R&T from a perfect review is a lack of exceptional sides. With so much talent and craft apparent in the menu, and with only five to eight entrées typically offered, the sides did not harmonize with the main courses as should be expected.
To fully realize itself as the best, preordained vegetable adornments must be discarded. A few risks with the sides would be welcome, even within the traditional styles R&T has nearly mastered.
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