I first visited Rose Tattoo Cafe for dinner on my birthday last year. A few friends and I were seated upstairs, with a great view of their “garden,” and ordered from the light fare menu. I had a great experience the first time around. The second time, a week ago when Tall Guy and I went for dinner (and participated in Dining Out for Life!), not so much.
We sat in the bar on the right hand side of the entrance (they have two bars on the ground floor and additional seating upstairs). It was fairly crowded when we got there around 8 pm. We chose to sit in the bar area thinking it would be faster service than if we sat at a table. We later found out that we were very, very wrong.
The bartender was not only working the (mostly full) bar, but was waiting on the tables near the bar, as well. In total, Tall Guy counted about 20-25 people were there at the busiest. He said it was possible for one person to handle that kind of crowd on their own, but the bartender clearly wasn’t up to the challenge. (He’s the restaurant guy, so I take his word on this type of stuff.) It took a little longer for her to get our beers than I would have liked, but it wasn’t a huge issue… At first. When we first sat down, I was only interested in getting a small meal, as I wasn’t super hungry. By the time the bartender actually got around to taking our order, however, I was ravenous. In the time it took me to first decide what I wanted and for her to actually come over to take our order, I changed my mind at least a dozen times because I was getting so hungry! The poor girl seemed really overwhelmed, and on top of her other duties, had to run to the kitchen to grab everyone’s food. It seemed like the place was really short staffed, which obviously happens from time to time, but Thursday was Dining Out for Life, as I mentioned earlier, and there were specials going on because of that, so management should have been able to anticipate that there might have been a larger crowd than normal and staffed accordingly…
Luckily, the RTC has great food. Though it took a million years to finally get to us, Tall Guy and I had no complaints about the meal. I finally settled on a burger (boring, I know), which was a little juicy for my liking (I HATE when burger juice drips everywhere and makes the bun soggy!), but satisfied my growling stomach nonetheless. Tall Guy got a crock of French onion soup and a wedge salad with their Cognac Russian dressing, which both looked and tasted amazing (I might have sampled a bit of each…).
To top it all off, we actually split a dessert, which we usually don’t do, but it was for a good cause, so we figured why the hell not! (Really just because Tall Guy was craving creme brulee, his favorite). On par with the rest of the meal, the creme brulee did not disappoint, and was the perfect size to split between two people!
I vaguely remember service being a tad slow when I went for my birthday, but no where near as slow as it was when we went last week. All in all, the meal took us 3 hours! I’m not sure if it was lack of hustle on the bartender’s part, but it was clear that she needed some sort of help and no one was giving it to her. While the food was good, it didn’t totally make up for the slow service and I will keep that in mind the next time I consider going there. The cocktails are amazing, so if you’re looking to stop in for a “quick” drink, definitely do, but if you end up there for hours, well, you’ve been warned.
Rose Tattoo Cafe, 1847 Callowhill St., Phila., PA 19130; closed Mondays; no brunch service.