I entered Rose Petals Café and Lounge hoping it was going to be one of those hole-in-the-wall places that’s a beacon of hope amid a dreary, impoverished background. The establishment is settled in on Chelten Avenue, which is marred by jagged, cracked sidewalks and abandoned businesses.
They say you should never judge the book by the cover, but the shattered glass on the right bottom pane of the front door was only the first area of concern for the infant restaurant.
I was seated within seconds, although the number of individuals in the party overwhelmed the staff member at first glance. They were not expecting a party of five. She placed a series of high top tables together, accommodating us nicely. The restaurant’s website insists that there is seating for 45 people, which is hard to believe, as the tables in the rear are placed very close to one another. Guests could, without a doubt, hear their neighbors chewing.
After seating our party, the woman returned to her post and continued to scrape the heart-shaped stickers off the glass door using what looked like an icing spatula. Valentine’s Day was clearly over.
We didn’t wait long to be attended to at the table. We were handed menus and utensils bound by paper napkins. The mom-and-pop shop menus and disposable napkins uncomfortably contrasted the sophistication of the deep red walls and the rich Jacobean flowered wallpaper. The ambiance whispered jazz club, while everything else shouted basic breakfast diner.
Within a bearable amount of time, I was able to order a coffee. The server, who was later identified as the owner of the establishment, brought back an enormous mug filled to the brim. The outside of the large, ceramic mug was perfect to warm my hands after braving the atypically cold weather.
The coffee itself, however, wasn’t all that soothing. Hot coffee is essential for mid-February freezes and this failed to make the grade. It was lukewarm and tasted as though a cup of water had been poured into it, rather than a dash of milk and sugar. It wasn’t the quality of La Colombe coffee you would expect.
With the coffee sitting at arm’s distance, I scanned the extensive menu. There are 10 different unique waffle options, an apparent specialty and community favorite. After much consideration, I opted for the Rose Petals Waffle, which is served with white and chocolate crumbles, strawberries, whipped cream and garnished with rose petals. I intended on adding a protein to my order, but the server admitted to being out of all pork products. No bacon. No smile.
That was the last time I saw our original server. Our food took 45 minutes to arrive at our makeshift table for five. The server who brought our breakfast over was not our originally assigned server, forcing him to hold the food out and awkwardly inquire whom it belonged to. Breakfast food shouldn’t take that long to concoct. Papa Barr makes pancakes in about 10 seconds and they’re hot.
The Rose Petal Waffle was underwhelming. Upon first glance, it was clear that the plate had been sitting out for some time. There was no steam arising from the food (yes I hovered my hand over it) and the plate was room temperature. The waffle was bland and in no way warm or crispy like made-to-order waffles should be. The texture mimicked that of a day-old waffle reheated in the microwave and left out. The inclusion of actual rose petals was a valiant attempt at paying homage to the restaurant’s name, but missed the mark. They were small in size, but largely obtrusive to the meal, getting uncomfortably caught in my teeth throughout. I don’t look cute when I’m trying to flick roses from my gums. The earthiness of the petals did not contribute to the taste by any means. Still wondering where my “white crumbles” were…
Frankly, a waffle worth $8.49 shouldn’t have been this lazy.
After finishing, there was another significant wait. We had to physically signal a server over after sitting without touching the food for upwards of 15 minutes. The server was visibly uncomfortable with our hastiness, but was extremely courteous when requested to split the checks.
A waffle and coffee can set patrons back just over $15.00, which seems quite high for the quality of both the food and the service. If the staff both in the front and the back of the house were able to align more with the wallpaper than the napkin, Rose Petals could secure a notable and fortuitous future. But so far, they’re disposable.
If you have had a better experience, like many of those who checked in on Yelp!, please comment and help me see the light.