Restaurants

Why RT Rotisserie’s Cauliflower Is, Ahem, Heads Above the Rest

This San Francisco restaurant's giant roasted head drizzled with hot-pink beet tahini is in a league of its own.

4 min read
1/2/2024
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I don’t have many things to be thankful for surrounding COVID-19, but there is one lasting benefit: my discovery of RT Rotisserie’s Roasted Cauliflower.

I knew the fast-casual sister to Michelin-ranked Rich Table makes a mean rotisserie chicken. We’re talking 18-hour-buttermilk-brined and hang-dried for two days to get that extra crispy skin. We’re talking fig-wood smoked oil, porcini umami powder, toasted garlic, and herb seasoning. And that’s before the garnishes of lemon wedges and two house-made side sauces of choice!

But “roasted cauliflower"? The minimalist menu description sounded about as enticing as “social distancing,” even with its “red beet tahini” tagline.

Still, during a COVID order-in night, I figured it was a good filler for the vegans at the dinner table. So I added it to my selections along with Caesar-salad-flavored Brussels sprouts — topped with with garlic aioli, cojita cheese, and lemon — and, of course, the legendary smoked-oil-doused, porcini-powder-dusted, no-persuasion-needed umami fries.

When my order arrived, a peek at the cauliflower in its takeout container was the first clue that this dish is, ahem, heads above the rest. Lightly tanned and whole (or half if the head is enormous), it’s partnered with a creamy beet tahini garnish that’s so vibrantly pink it could make a cameo in the Barbie movie. Drizzle it on as they do at the restaurant and finish it with a sprinkling of the included fresh parsley, dill, and mint. 

Then there’s the cutting. No everyday florets to scoop out here! This globe of goodness begs for its own serving plate, from which chunky wedges can be carved and ceremoniously dolled out. 

And, oh, to bite into it. I’ve made a lot of cauliflower in my life — including whole roasted heads with exciting toppings like chili-miso paste or mayo mixed with cheddar and parmesan. But this one features an al dente-meets-tender texture and lightly caramelized crust I’ve never come close to achieving at home. Plus there’s unexpected flavor depth, even before the luscious Barbie sauce. Rustic as it may look, this is Michelin-level cauliflower.

When I first tried it, I didn’t know that chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich have been refining their cauliflower recipe since they started serving it at RT Rotisserie’s launch in 2017. According to the husband-and-wife duo, the current iteration’s cooking process includes steaming, quick-frying, and oven-roasting each head before lightly seasoning it with a lemon-olive-oil-white-soy-sauce vinaigrette. Then it’s garnished with the DayGlo beet tahini and delicate herb sprinkle. If cauliflower could book a full spa day, this would be it.  

Apparently, I’m not the only one who appreciates the ultra-pampered, gorgeously dressed, red-carpet-ready whole cauliflower from RT Rotisserie. According to chef Evan Rich, they go through about 360 heads per day between their two San Francisco locations. This underscores a fact I literally savor: RT’s has San Francisco’s crowning cauliflower dish.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Rich Table