Exploring the Culinary Legacy of the Rooster & the Till (PHOTOS)

The journey of Rooster & the Till began modestly, with its origins as a 37-seat restaurant nestled in the burgeoning neighborhood of Seminole Heights, a stone’s throw from downtown Tampa. 

A decade has, since, passed and the landscape in that neighborhood has transformed remarkably. Today, Proper House Group, the visionary entity behind Rooster & the Till, proudly oversees a portfolio of five restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. With its sights set on expansion, the group is poised to launch two new ventures, Ash and Alter Ego, in Tampa’s Water Street. This move not only signifies the group’s growth but also its commitment to excellence in the heart of Tampa’s dynamic dining scene. 

Kismet brought together the four partners of Proper House Group, composed of Chef Ferrell Alvarez, a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef South in 2017, Ty Rodriguez, a recognized figure in the restaurant industry, Chon Nguyen, a visionary entrepreneur, and Myles Gallagher, the strategic director of operations. Together, they are driving forward the evolution of the hospitality landscape with a blend of innovation, passion and an unyielding commitment to excellence in the restaurant industry. 

Rooster & the Till has achieved notable recognition, and praise, for its distinctive, and creative, style, securing a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award, in 2022. Alvarez leads the culinary vision, curating a farm-to-table menu with care and creativity. Renowned for its evolving selection, the restaurant prides itself on offering a dynamic menu where no dish is replicated. Through its food incubator concept, patrons can secure tickets for an 8- to 10-course dinner experience, sampling upcoming creations from the ever-changing tasting menu and offering valuable feedback. In addition to the preview tastings, Rooster & the Till hosts four celebrity chef dinners, at the end of the year.

Beyond featuring a thoughtfully curated wine list and an array of expertly crafted cocktails, the restaurant presents an equally enticing selection of zero-proof drinks. These non-alcoholic creations are as visually captivating as their alcoholic counterparts, bursting with vibrant colors and bold flavors. Consider the Positano Limeade infused with the tangy essence of black cherry and lime, expertly balanced by the natural sweetness of agave and finished with a refreshing sparkle from Vero Sparkling. It’s a blend of flavors that dance on the tongue, providing refreshment without the alcohol. Another standout is The Best of Times, featuring seed lip spice paired with aromatic notes of cardamom and rose and complemented by the fruity richness of pomegranate. 

Kick off a sensational journey for your taste buds, setting the stage for an unforgettable culinary exploration that promises to delight, and surprise, with every bite. The A5 Miyazaki Hand Roll featuring grilled enoki mushrooms, uni and Sterling Royal caviar is the epitome of indulgence, designed to satisfy even the most discerning of palates. Miyazaki Wagyu comes from a Japanese breed of cattle that has been bred and raised for centuries, with each cow documented and tracked, allowing consumers to trace its lineage, age, farm and life history. The exceptional marbling is the hallmark of Miyazaki and results in the absolute pinnacle of beef quality, unmatched tenderness and a flavor profile that is a rare treat for the poshest of palates.

While the menu undergoes frequent updates, two enduring favorites remain steadfast: the Cobia Collar and the Smoked Potato Pierogies. The Cobia Collar showcases innovation by utilizing typically overlooked parts of the fish, expertly transformed into a delicacy. Here, the succulent collar of the cobia is enhanced with nuoc cham, infusing it with a tantalizing blend of flavors. Thai chilis adds a subtle kick, balanced by the refreshing brightness of cilantro, creating a harmonious symphony of tastes. On the other hand, the Smoked Potato Pierogies offer a delectable vegan option. These pierogies boast a smokiness that perfectly complements the earthy flavors of caraway cabbage and the creamy richness of carrot cream. Crispy fried artichokes add a delightful crunch, while a drizzle of brown butter ties the dish together with its nutty undertones. 

The 16-oz. bone-in za’atar short rib boasts a depth of flavor that tantalizes the taste buds with each tender bite. Complemented by the creamy richness of orange labneh and the velvety texture of garlic purée, every element of this dish harmonizes flawlessly to create a symphony of taste sensations. Skug roasted mushrooms add a savory complexity, while the roti serves as the perfect vessel to transport these exquisite flavors. This dish is a true masterpiece, destined to delight even the most discerning and elevate the dining experience to new heights of sophistication.

Alvarez’s culinary prowess extends beyond savory dishes to encompass an impressive array of desserts. The Apple Mille Feuille, affectionately known as the “1,000 layers dessert,” features layers of delicate pine nut coffee cake adorned with indulgent rosemary butterscotch and fresh whipped cream. Another standout dessert is the Black Sesame Ice Cream, featuring a luscious scoop of ice cream infused with pineapple coconut jam and drizzled with Thai tea caramel. This dessert is a harmonious balance of sweet and nutty flavors, elevated by the interplay of contrasting textures.

The narrative of Rooster & the Till, from its inception to a culinary landmark, is punctuated by a quote from Alvarez, “We’re not scared to try. And we’re not scared to fail.” This philosophy encapsulates the essence of their success—a willingness to embrace risk, innovate and adapt. Its story serves as a powerful reminder of the value of vision, partnership and resilience in the quest for excellence. ♦

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