Feeding the insatiable appetite of a brand can often lead to causalities of integrity. Whenever a food truck gets a proper brick-and-mortar location, it’s cause for celebration — but the expansion can signal a loss of identity. All of a sudden, the food doesn’t seem as personal (or as good). The staff isn’t welcoming like they used to be. Everything’s too corporate, man. What happened to your favorite little spot? Luckily, at The Rooster chef Rouha Sadighi has managed to capture the essence of her friendly, roaming breakfast burrito truck with ease.
Sadighi’s menu has always been good fun. Even though she’s packing experience in Michelin-starred restaurants, her finger has never left the pulse of what the larger community wants.
Her cooking offers a thesis: The heart and soul of the American breakfast is lighthearted and approachable, an over-the-counter, grab-with-your-hands affair.
Overly decadent and pricey brunch plates have a time and place, but for most people the first meal of the day works best as something you pick up before work. Simply put, The Rooster’s menu is elevated everyman, and I don’t think it’s any mistake that her riffs on breakfast made me nostalgic for early morning McDonald’s, either.
Tater tots might seem a little bit unusual in a burrito with eggs (The Rico Suave), but it made me wistful for the golden fried, oval hash browns I ate when my parents took me to McD’s after church on Sundays. Take the Bodega — a breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese and tangy hot sauce, wedged between a soft ciabatta bun which is delicate, spongy and reminiscent of an English (Mc)muffin.
To be clear, the quality here is vastly superior to what’s being served betwixt the golden arches, but I draw the comparison because it’s undeniable that for years Ronald McDonald has been the king of breakfast. Make no mistake, it got there through mass appeal to the average American worker.
What Sadighi does, though, is prove that the spirit of the working-class, fast-casual breakfast is best in her hands. Absent are the force-feeding of trends and attempts to reinvent the wheel — The Rooster offers straightforward, modern ideas because that’s usually what tastes good.
While her work never strays too far from simplicity, you still feel like you’re eating something special. Trust me, cilantro crema and cotija cheese are exactly what you want in a breakfast burrito, even if you didn’t know how to properly articulate it.
Also, if you are a fan of the sybaritic and sweet, you’ll be happy to know Sadighi’s got a knack for livening up French toast — The DJ Qualls is a thick slice of brioche topped with fresh ricotta and blueberries, and the WTF is that same brioche dipped in pancake batter, served with bacon jam, an over medium egg and dusted with powdered sugar.
There’s now a brief lunch menu, too — updating classics like the BLT, which comes with creamy maple schmear on country bread, and the Cubano, which you’ll find on a garlic baguette. She dresses up familiar concepts just enough without losing you — Sadighi knows how to walk you to the edge.
An L.A. native, Sadighi isn’t some absent chef you barely see cook either; when I stopped by the new digs on Pico, she was working right alongside her all female staff. It’s also worth mentioning that she previously won an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen and has appeared as a contestant on Chopped. Chefs are starting to have TV credits like comedians have late night set appearances — it’s a useful promotion tool, a way to announce to the public, “I’m here, ready to take my career to the next level.”
At The Rooster’s new location, the kitchen is larger than the dining room, which can only mean that Sadighi’s got some exciting new ideas to expand her business. Whatever she does, you can count on her to deliver something honest, delicious, and accessible.
The Rooster, 8809 W. Pico Blvd., Pico-Robertson; (424) 278-1839, theroosterla.com