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Courtesy of Logan Payne
Courtesy of Logan Payne

Do you remember the review I did on Rooster Café in an earlier installment of the Dish List? As I mentioned earlier, once the sun sets, Rooster Café in Costa Mesa closes and allows Rooster PM to rise and shine.

The unassuming eatery, located across the street from American Apparel and next to a pool hall, just dims the lights and takes the chalkboards down from Rooster Café to make the transition to Rooster PM. It almost feels as if you’re heading to a speakeasy establishment that almost no one knows about.

Which came first? The Café or the PM? In this case, the café came first when it was opened around six years ago, while the nighttime alternative was opened three and a half years ago by Robert Tashiro, the former director of a homeless shelter for 10 years before deciding that it was time for a career change.

With Rooster PM, Tashiro was able to go back to his college days when he worked at a restaurant.

“Rooster PM is internet cuisine, it’s not limited to one style or origin of cuisine, it’s everything,” Tashiro said.

With a wide variety listed on the long menu, it’s easy to see the influence of almost every culture with items from Chorizo Tacos to a European inspired cheese platter.

All of the items on the menu come in small plates, much like traditional Spanish tapas, with no limit to one particular cuisine. Three to four items are rotated into the menu each week, depending on what’s fresh in local markets and really what the chefs liked eating elsewhere that week.

With the menu mounted on a corkboard and the drink list on a clipboard, this small eatery offers a menu full of depth and variety. Ranging from a Lobster Quesadilla, a four-cheese macaroni, to Berries and Cream, there are almost too many options from which to choose.

I was finally able to settle on the four-cheese macaroni, the mushroom three ways and the PM mini-burgers with garlic aioli. Our enthusiastic waiter, who pulled up a chair next to the patrons’ tables to speak about the items on the menu, recommended the macaroni and cheese and mentioned that it was the most popular item on the Rooster PM menu, as well as a customer favorite.

A favorite indeed; the macaroni that came out in a small cauldron-like bowl was very cheesy. I think that I’ve grown to be too accustomed to the boxed variety of mac and cheese as I was expecting nothing special, even though I had heard rave reviews.

But one bite changed it all.

The flat, unimpressionable flavor profile that I was expecting was blown out of the water as the sharp and mild cheddar cheese along with other variations created a mouthful of hearty and sharp macaroni that was far from anything that could ever come out of a box. Even though the bowl looked small, it was a near-perfect amount, especially if you’re ordering other plates to go along with it.

Next on the agenda were the PM mini-burgers with garlic aioli and the mushroom three ways. The sliders came in a row of three, awkward to share with only two people and not enough for one, since they were so damn good. With a slider-sized slice of American cheese and a small, ground beef patty smothered in the garlic aioli, the mini-burgers packed in so much punch.

Garlic lovers, pay attention here. The best part about the patties was the garlic aioli, which was creamy yet full of the garlic flavor that we love. Aside from the garlic aioli, the sliders would have been a little on the unimpressive side with just the single patty and a slice of cheese.

To round up the meal, it was decided that we must try dessert, but choosing between the berries with the Spanish cream, the s’mores, the five layer cake and the churros covered in chocolate proved to be difficult. However, our attentive waiter prompted us to order the s’mores, which he explained were “s’mores that were dressed up and ready to go to prom.”

Smothered in fudge chocolate, with heaping mountains of whipped cream and pristine slices of fresh strawberry, the s’mores really need no explanation other than to say that they were a delicious conclusion to this family style, new American meal.

Rooster PM is a nice nighttime eatery that will definitely send you home feeling almost uncomfortably full with their twist-filled offerings in their unconventional atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to try and throw into the mix of your go-to eateries.

 

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