The Roost, Northampton, MA

Things overheard at The Roost:
“Have you heard the new Girl Talk album? It’s deck.”
“I put off paying my rent because those new Nike collectible shoes were a must.”
“Really, because I think Nietzche’s sentiments were just echoed by Charles Bronson in a cooler way.”
“Has anyone even been far as decided to use even go want to do look more like?”

Things not overheard at The Roost:
“Are there fries with that?”
“I love my new non-Mac computer! It is sufficient and perfect for all my needs!”
“No, I’ve never read What Color Is Your Parachute, why do you ask?”
“Kombucha? What is that, Japanese fellatio?”

Needless to say, The Roost looked like the exact kind of place I would resent. Surprisingly, it’s the first of its kind to open up in Northampton- a hipster cafe, complete with upcycled picket fence and pallet board sign construction and fake rust accents. Open for a mere week, it already had its staples of Mac lovers and Khalil Gibran touters. Because this seemed like the kind of place with a hipster dress code and 3 PBR minimum, Keepitcoming and I went in disguise.The menu takes a good deal of getting used to. For a place that boasts a relaxed, vintage atmosphere, there are stringent hours regarding when one can and cannot eat breakfast or lunch. I omit dinner because the “dinner” menu is paltry at best, with nothing under $10 providing adequate sustenance for one person. The staff is also apparently unable to whip up a cold sandwich after four PM. They do not yet have menus for takeaway, yet have taken liberties to print recycled house menus with alternating capitalization.

We went for lunch, as that seemed to provide the most variety and value. Surprisingly, Four Loko was not listed as a special. We ordered two grilled cheeses in their savory and sweetvarieties, a blondie, an iced chai tea, and one of their specialty cocktails. Props to a restaurant (with this level of pretension) with no moral quandry about serving booze at one in the afternoon. Musta been the weather. The staff is clearly still getting used to the lay of the land, because during the 45 minutes we were there, we heard two loud crashes coming from the kitchen area. The decor was funky, and clearly malleable enough to progress as the restaurant grows. I especially appreciated the gender-neutral bathrooms, but felt a little put on the spot when given the choice to enter “number one” or “number two.” I suspect the latter had a longer wait time.

The eight Macbooks in a ten foot vicinity were old hat, but the wood tables and drinks served in Mason glasses were a unique touch a la summer camp in the Poconos. Lunch for two came to thirty bucks, generally a little more than I prefer to spend on sandwiches and dessert.Our sandwiches were pressed panini, oozing with filling. This was what would separate The Roost from Wheatberry and hopefully soar it into the platinum plus status of a Woodstar or Bread Euphoria. Sweet baby Jesus, I said to myself, please, please don’t let this be another Wheatberry. Perhaps even become the mayor of Foursquare or whatever. My wallet is crying in my back pocket. But lo and behold, it was not! It was fresh and filling, if a tad on the greasy side. The savory sandwich contained tomato, avocado, whole grain mustard, and swiss cheese, and was juicy with a panoply of textures, but somewhat of a lack in flavor. The whole grain mustard was especially enhancing, but little else seasoned the sandwich. The ingredients were clearly of a high quality, so it was a shame that they weren’t salted to their full potential.The sweet grilled cheese had a similar seasoning problem. The ingredients were quality- peppery arugula, fig jam, brie cheese, and green apples, but seemed to be haphazardly thrown together in a way that was deliciously messy, but a little inconsistent. The one bite I had with all the ingredients was sublime, but for nine other bites with small amounts of filling, it wasn’t worth the price. Both sandwiches were stuffed and grilled to a crispy shell, but lacked the tang and intensity I often crave in a good sandwich.Our drinks fell down in quality. Keepitcoming’s specialty cocktail, though innovative and summery, consisted of roughly two ounces of cava (an already cheap alternative to champagne) and three ounces of ice halfway filling up a tumbler. The concept was tasty- cava with thin slices of lemon and confetti strips of chiffonaded basil at the bottom, but lacked the finesse and portion that one regularly expects in a cocktail. Or maybe I’m just an alcoholic. But for eight dollars, they really cheaped out on this one. It was slightly astringent at first, and was improved with a little simple syrup.Opting for a cool drink from their coffee list, I ordered an iced chai and was pleased to discover that it was light on the ice without even asking for it to be. It was a large serving, but was a little light on both the sugar and spice. The contents were definitely milky without being watery, and struck a good balance between liquids. It grew on me as I drank and was especially good with the peanut butter blondie. From the right angle, these resembled the foodstuff equivalent of a lead pipe. We didn’t know they were wedges and assumed they were just inch-thick squares of dense blonde action, able to kill a man at a glance.But she was more delicate than her appearance, far more so. The blondie fell apart at the slightest nudge from a fork, dissolving into crumbly, sandy morsels infused with a delicious nutty flavor in both the batter and the dough. I was pleased to have a little sweet with my salty, coming in the form of soft white chocolate chip morsels. A tasty bakery treat, but unfortunately nothing I’m dying to run back for anytime soon. For the crowd it aims for, The Roost is an inclusive alternative to Starbucks, but doesn’t quite cater to the expectations I typically have.

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