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The ahi tuna: This is that dish of the year. The taste was as vibrant as the presentation.

Taking Oswego’s Culinary Scene to the Skies

Rooftop Lounge has everyone looking up

The coq au vin small plate, which translates simply to chicken with wine. The flavor was pretty outstanding.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Oswego’s culinary prowess is winning me over.

The Port City has a little bit of everything — from greasy spoons to upscale bistros — and is catering to various diets and palates.

I’m also proud to admit I had a “stop everything” moment this early in the year. It’s like a movie trailer preemptively claiming its film is the best of its genre for the year while you, sitting in front of whatever screen you’re watching, say, “Really? For Pete’s sake, it’s only January.” But then the expectations are met.

I’ll get to that in a minute.

The Rooftop Lounge in the Litrato building on West First Street has been on my radar for a bit.

The restaurant offers a meal with a view. The main dining area of the fifth-floor eatery is sandwiched between two outdoor areas — one with a clear view of the water and the other an urbanesque treat looking over downtown Oswego. Neither is a bad choice but, since it’s winter, eating outside isn’t an option.

The Rooftop Lounge specializes in craft cocktails, with a lengthy spirit and wine list to boot and small plates. At first glance and thought, the modern restaurant prides itself on being a place for people to gather, talk and relax — plus, you know, eat and drink while listening to live music and taking in a Central New York sunset.

It’s got everything and it’s not afraid to take risks when it comes to the food.

While glancing over the menu, I enjoyed the pecan old fashioned ($12), which is made up of a pecan whiskey, a Japanese whiskey, chocolate bitters and an orange rind. The rim of the glass is coated with crushed pecans for that extra nutty wink to pair well with the beverage. It’s not overly sweet but just enough.

The menu is stacked with tantalizing options. The weekly specials menu doesn’t make decision-making any easier. But I kicked off the meal with the soup trio ($8). Three soups are presented in little cups. I was able to try their gumbo, Tuscan-style shrimp bisque and a chowder comprised of potato, bacon and corn. The chowder was hearty, the gumbo was nice and spicy and the bisque was just right. If I had to pick a favorite — I’d go with the gumbo. It didn’t hold back, it was packed with ingredients (chicken, pepperoni, long grain rice and more) and made me want to revisit New Orleans.

Pecan old fashioned is made up of a pecan whiskey, a Japanese whiskey, chocolate bitters and an orange rind. The rim of the glass is coated with crushed pecans for that extra nutty wink.

The Rooftop also has menu sections dedicated to charcuterie boards and flatbreads. Leaning toward flatbread, the burrata and prosciutto ($15) caught my attention.

There were just enough ingredients, so the dough did not falter. Aside from the creamy cheese to cool things down, the light fare had a nice kick to it thanks to the red pepper flakes. The homemade marinara sauce’s flavor is also something to note, plus there was just enough; any more may have made the flatbread a little soggy.

There’s an option to get a filet with mushroom risotto or just get the rice dish as a side ($10), which we did. Don’t let the word “side” deter you from going that route. The creamy risotto emphasized by fresh mushrooms came as a generous, shareable amount. In response to our enjoyment, wife said: “We need to make risotto more often.”

The coq au vin small plate ($22), which translates simply to chicken with wine, is also more than braised bone-in chicken thigh. The stewy dish came with carrots, mushrooms and onions. The concoction was made with red wine and finished with bourbon. These all sat atop a heaping scoop of pureed potatoes.

The flavor was pretty outstanding. And what more perfect dish for a winter’s day? Despite its unapologetic heartiness, it wasn’t overly filling. It’s another easily shareable small plate at The Rooftop Lounge but you may end up ordering more for the table.

The ahi tuna ($15) — this is where it’s at. This is that dish of the year. The sesame-crusted tuna came out, bearing all its pink glory. It was joined by tiny soy sauce pearls and pickled ginger. The trio sat atop a wasabi cremé drizzle and there was a side of Teriyaki glaze.

The taste was as vibrant as the presentation. The pink and green stood out on the black plate. The soy sauce — nice and light and salty. The slightly thicker wasabi drizzle had that perfect eye-opening potency, clearing the sinuses but not overstaying its welcome.

As intriguing as the desserts were, sadly, the meal focused on the savory. But the burnt ends ($10) brought some sweetness. This plate is like the grand finale of a fireworks show — there’s a little bit of everything, a feast for the mouth. The melt-in-your-mouth pork is presented with a maple Cajun glaze, pepper slaw and a side of spicy blackberry jam.

It’s a poster child for sweet and savory ecstasy. Six pieces of fatty burnt ends are presented with the rest of the dish’s components. It’s amazing the overall flavor, especially with the slight kick of the berry jam. Each bite is explosive and colorful.

Before tip, the bill totaled $102 and change.

The Rooftop is like a diamond in the sense it has its own “seven C’s.” It’s classy and chic with a strong emphasis on comfort. One thing it’s not — cliched.

The Oswego restaurant is taking on cuisine with a contemplative approach all the while building and re-emphasizing the importance of community.

Dining out is an experience. The Rooftop Lounge puts that responsibility in the hands of its patrons, as it should be. Its team is here to simply make sure you’re happy and satisfied.


The Rooftop Lounge

Litrato Building

189 W. First St., 5th floor,

Oswego, NY 13126


Sunday and Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.