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RESTAURANT REVIEW : Saucy Little Dishes at Rosies BBQ Grillery

January 29, 1988|CHARLES PERRY

It's a long way from the back-street sort of barbecue to Rosies BBQ Grillery in the Westside Towers, but if any barbecue deserves to be in a slick new office building, this is the one.

Rosies is no funky operation. We're talking mesquite here, we're talking full bar and validated parking. It's a neat, mannerly, pastel-toned Southwestern sort of place where the customers are neatly dressed and the barbecued meat is always tender and smoky and . . . well, neat.

It's the third restaurant of a chain that started in the Valley, and if anything the expansion to West Los Angeles has only exaggerated its neatness. Like the original Rosies, it has a bathtub near the entrance. But while in Northridge you are jocularly encouraged to wash your hands in the tub, I've never seen anybody do that--can't even imagine anybody doing that--at the Westside Towers.

It serves the kind of barbecue a lot of people like, starting with a fairly classic sweet-sour tomato-based barbecue sauce. (In fact, in deference to the American sweet tooth, a lot of things, such as the coleslaw, are a bit on the sweet side.)

As for the barbecued meats, the beef short ribs ("Kosher style"), though a good beefy mouthful, don't seem to be as tender as the ones served at the original Northridge location, but other than that, everything is the good, smoky barbecue that has often lured me to the original Rosies.

The "spicy Southern spare ribs" are "Louisiana style" (emerging code for "sprinkled with cayenne"), and I tend to order them rather than the regular spare ribs. The barbecue sauce that comes on everything, nice though it is, gets a bit dull after a couple of visits. And this dry sprinkle of moderately hot spice mixture is a good addition. There are also decent beef ribs and a tender and juicy barbecued chicken slathered with barbecue sauce at the last minute. "The Works" is the four basic kinds of rib (only the plain spare ribs, not the Louisianas) plus chicken and chili.

What else do we have here? Good smoky grilled hamburgers. The same beef shows up in the "spicy meatballs" which are, as it were, globular grilled burgers dressed with barbecue sauce and served on a bed of nouvelle-style onion rings, the kind that are merely dusted with flour and fried crisp rather than being fried in batter.

Also in the non-barbecue-straight-grilled category is a roast sirloin of beef rolled in cracked pepper and garlic, smoked and then grilled. It comes with a little pot of black meat juices, which is principally of importance because the meat is a little on the dry side. The menu also lists barbecued duck, which sounds like a good idea but wasn't available when I ordered it.

Among the appetizers, Rosies has the obligatory Buffalo wings ("Louisiana" Buffalo wings, that is) and some jalapeno cheese balls that have never quite excited me.

There's a massive salad bar that includes the usual raw fixings and a rather good eggy potato salad, a couple of pasta salads of mixed quality and, of course, the sweet coleslaw. The Italian dressing is a lot better than its gray color portends, and there's a rather good yogurt-based low-cal dressing worth checking out.

The chili, called "Thunderbolt chili" on the menu and "TNT chili" on your check, is nowhere near as hot as they say but it is a very good one, full of tender chunks of beef, onions and beans in a dark brown sauce. There are also some shrimp on a skewer with barbecue sauce and a fish of the day, which I have somehow never been able to try. Something about having chili on a menu makes me unable to order fish.

The dessert selection is pretty narrow, but they have a remarkably cheesy cheesecake--non-purists can get it as Kahlua cheesecake in a puddle of chocolate syrup. For a chocolate fix, though, the better choice is the chocolate Haagen-Dazs ice cream with hot fudge and toasted almonds.

Rosies BBQ Grillery, 11845 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 473-8533. Open for lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner daily. Full bar. Validated lot parking. American Express, MasterCard and Visa accepted. Dinner for two, food only, $16 to $45.

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