I’ve always loved Room 39. The servers are consistently friendly and knowledgeable, the space has a lovely coziness to it and the restaurant’s personality shifts as the clock does. In the morning it’s an upscale coffee shop, with exceptional coffee and egg dishes, including a quiche that is probably four inches high. At lunchtime, it’s a soup and sandwich spot frequented by lawyers and artists alike. The veggie burger is one of the best around, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the offerings.
Come sundown, tablecloths and votives grace the tables, transforming the restaurant into a serious, upscale dining experience. The menu changes daily and is posted online so you can get a peek of the chef’s selections before making a reservation. (The breakfast and lunch menus are set seasonally, but an extensive list of daily specials is also available.)
Owner Ted Habiger and his chefs are all about fresh and seasonal ingredients, which is why the menu has to change each day based on availability. We were lucky to be there on a night when beets were so prominently featured. The beet risotto was a stunning magenta, and the beet vinaigrette that accompanied the succulent scallops was bubble gum pink. The color could have been off-putting, but knowing that it was redolent of beet and far from artificial made it a good thing.
The rib eye was huge, prepared as ordered and very tender. (Unlike the leg of lamb which was without even a touch of pink though the server explained that the chef likes to serve it medium).
While I think of Room 39 as being quaint, and it is, that doesn’t mean it’s quiet. We were there the Thursday before Christmas, and as more diners squeezed in at the bar to wait for a table, the louder it became. We could still carry on a conversation at our table of six, but it wasn’t as relaxing as when we first sat down to a half-full room.
Room 39 also has another restaurant by the same name in Mission Farms at 105th and Mission Road. The fare is similar, though the chef at that location puts his own spin on the menu. I prefer the more charming ambiance at the location on 39th St, but the food is excellent at both.