Slight buzzing about a wood-fired rotisserie restaurant opening in southwestern Sioux Falls got to our office. After checking out the (very nice) website, I was surprised it was at the Empire Mall in the former Rookies Sports Bar & Grill location.
Let’s be honest. That location connected to The District hasn’t been the luckiest thus far for bars and restaurants, so I was a bit skeptical. Again, though, after seeing the branding and website, I had high hopes.
Co-owner and chief operating officer John Sheehan (other owner is Lynn Reimer) greeted 605’s Yany Avelar and me by the fireplace at the entrance and asked if he could give us a quick tour.
Now I’ve been pretty up front that I love a good theme. I appreciate when a new place opens and it’s not a cookie-cutter concrete box with a bar in the middle and minimal décor (with a chunk of said minimal décor being beer distributing signs).
ROAM Kitchen + Bar has a whole story to it, and the tagline is that it’s “rooted in America.” It all revolves around the two murals, which were created by a Minneapolis artist. One has buffalo (“Because, you know, buffalo roam,” said Sheehan). The second mural showcases the other version of roaming, and has people on horseback discovering a camp.
“They’re heading toward the campfire, which is a big part of ROAM and why we constantly have a campfire going,” he said. “Campfires bring people together, and that’s what we’re trying to do here, to have people gather and eat.”
The vibe is to go back to “when life was simpler” in the spirit of the American frontier. And it’s true—there always is a “campfire” going from the open rotisserie, and it gives the (not overwhelming) smell of camp throughout the eatery.
There are also several fireplaces, which keep it nice and toasty, and all of the wood in the restaurant is reclaimed, and the metals were all done by a Midwest blacksmith.
The people behind ROAM own seven other restaurants and have been in the restaurant business for 38 years. This explains how they killed it with the details, like the “firefly lights” used throughout that give the nostalgic vibe of catching fireflies in the country or someone’s backyard.
There are around six rooms/areas to choose from for dining, and we got to sit in one of the more private rooms called the Rickhouse. This was designed after a rickhouse, which is a whiskey aging warehouse where barrels are stored. Whiskey and bourbon are also a loose theme of ROAM.
Framed images in the space are actual photos of rickhouses the owners have been to, and barrels are stacked above near the ceiling to give the full effect.
Get your spirits up with roam’s craft cocktails with a unique twist. The Smoked Orange Old Fashioned, for example, has Knob Creek, Angostura Bitters, and Orange Bitters. Want something light? Try The Basil Cucumber Cooler with Tito’s Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower, cucumber, basil, lime, and hibiscus bitters.
Our server arrived and gave us menus. There were a variety of different options, like unique sausage boards, mussels, and campfire-themed dishes like the Chicken Corn Chowder, which we ordered a bowl of.
It reminded us a little of tortilla soup, and smelled like it was going to be spicy, but was pretty mild. With the chicken, corn, bacon, and potatoes, it’s filling, so make sure you’re hungry if you also want an entrée.
We had to nibble on one of the ROAM Signature Sausages, so we went with the Chicken & Beer that had jalapeño mustard and potato salad. It came out on a cedar board, which was adorable.
Yany took a bite and said, “This is actually pretty mellow, and I don’t normally like sausage.”
She was right, and I’m a mellow type of gal. Yany’s recommendation is to dip the sausage in the mustard, which I heard was great (mustard scares me). I’m a huge fan of potato salad, and this was dill deliciousness. Dill plus sausage plus more potato salad is a winning combo in my book.
“The potato salad is bomb,” said Yany. She agreed!
After seeing it spin in front of us the whole tour, and because it was such a part of the campfire theme, we ordered the Rotisserie Chicken. The signature chicken was dry rubbed and slow roasted on the woodfired rotisserie and came with a side of veggies.
We went right for the breast, and whatever the dry rub was on the skin was salty and made me just want to eat pieces of skin alone.
The vegetables were good, and Yany noted that the carrots were half cooked, half raw, and it worked. “I kind of dig it,” she said, eating a couple.
Last, we tried the Bourbon Glazed Salmon. Holy smokes, this was the winner. The salmon was pan roasted with bourbon glaze, and was served with wild rice pilaf, spinach, and lemon butter sauce.
I want that sauce with everything. It made the whole meal so juicy and tender, and the salmon practically melted when we cut into it. Legit, I went to the bathroom and came back and Yany had finished it.
“I finished it while you were gone. Sorry,” she said, as she happy-swayed to the country music playing in the restaurant.
I feel like she wasn’t sorry.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT ROAMKITCHEN.COM.
At least for me, when I thought of businesses in this space previously, I felt like I would only stop by for a bite or drink if I was going to a show at the district. Roam is such a neat concept that I would actually think of it as a place to meet my friends for craft cocktails or for a nice lunch or dinner. Dare I say, I would roam over to the mall for this?
4525 W. EMPIRE PLACE, SIOUX FALLS // (605) 215-0020 // ROAMKITCHEN.COM
Jalapeños stuffed with chorizo, cream cheese, and barbecue sauce.
›DOUBLE SMOKED BACON
Bourbon-glazed, braised red cabbage, and yam shoestrings.
›PASTRAMI & SMOKED PEACH
Smoked pork belly, romaine & mixed greens, brown butter croutons, red onion, and buttermilk ranch.
Applewood-smoked bacon, rotisserie chicken, romaine and mixed greens, candied almonds, and goat cheese dressing.
FROM THE FIRE
Marinated and slow smoked, served with a side of savory barbecue sauce.
Slowly roasted and smoked until tender, served over Texas toast with house golden barbecue sauce.
Smoked shrimp salad, arugula, lemon herb aioli, and a grilled top-cut bun.
›3-PEPPER GOUDA BURGER
Peppers, onions, and tomato aioli.
FISH & SEAFOOD
Shrimp, scallops, mussels, smoked Louisiana hot link sausage, and herbed jasmine rice.
BEEF & PORK
›BONE IN BEEF SHORT RIB
Balsamic glazed skillet beef short rib, onion jus, green top carrots, arugula, and smashed red potatoes.
Smoked hot link, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and creamy cajun sauce.
Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries with coconut-graham crust and chocolate malted ice cream.
From the literal campfire smell to the Midwest makers who were involved (including a Mitchell artist who built the wine cabinets), ROAM uses all of the senses to engage patrons. Each room has its own feel, and I can see a lot of events and meetings happening there. And by meeting, I mean me making up an excuse to meet someone for a whiskey drink.
For the menu variety, it sticks mostly to the $15 and under range. Of course you have the Bone-In Beef Short Rib at $27.95, but, I mean, come on. Expect to pay craft cocktail prices if you want spirits, or order a Bud Light. Do you.
I enjoyed the different selections of food. There’s definitely a lot I need to go back and try. While I felt like the chicken could have used a little something like sauce, the salmon was perfection. I’m excited to order a burger or one of their salads (I heard the Smoked Grape is amazing) when I go back.
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Price $$$$$ | Taste ++++
It's the Facts
ROAM IS OPEN MONDAY THROUGH SUNDAY 11 A.M. – MIDNIGHT.
EVERY MONDAY, EVERY BOTTLE OF WINE IS HALF PRICE.
ROAM’S PATIO WILL OPEN IN LATE SPRING AND WILL HAVE 28 TABLES AND AN OUTDOOR BAR.