Global Street Food is the Focus of San Chez Owners’ New Restaurant Roam

Roam's satay, tamales and chips 'n dips.
Roam's satay, tamales and chips 'n dips.

New restaurant Roam promises to take your taste buds on a journey around the world.

The new offering from husband and wife team Cindy and Dan Schneider, who also own San Chez, is a collection of street fare representing over 25 countries. Find menu items from Sri Lanka, Egypt, New Zealand, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Ireland – you get the picture.

Cindy Schneider said after a failed attempt to find a home for a second San Chez in Detroit, she and her husband decided to open a second restaurant in Grand Rapids.

“We researched the trends and followed our passions and decided to focus a restaurant on global street food,” she said. The concept was a good fit, considering Schneider operated a food truck in Grand Rapids from 1988 to 1991.

Take your taste buds on a global journey at Roam.
Take your taste buds on a global journey at Roam.

To create the menu, Schneider said the restaurant’s chef and culinary team traveled to New York to try out authentic street cuisine. The Schneiders also compiled ideas from their own travels and that of their extended family.

The culinary team has been developing the menu and testing out possible recipes for Roam at San Chez for the past six months.

“We tested a list of dishes at San Chez prior to placing it on the menu,” Schneider said, noting they were shooting for a good mix of “proteins, vegetables and starches.”

The final menu includes early dishes, protein-based options, bowls, veggie-based options, bites, and sweets.

Schneider said her favorite is the Singapore Curry, a vegetarian and gluten-free dish made with jackfruit and potatoes.

One of the more unique items is the bone broth. This popular Egyptian dish is a nutrient dense broth made from bones, mirepoix and fresh herbs. It makes a surprisingly good breakfast option because its light but also protein packed.

Roam's satay has its roots in Indonesia.
Roam’s satay has its roots in Indonesia.

Another fun menu item is the oliebol, a dessert that comes from the Netherlands and has a personal connection to the Schneider family.

“My mother’s family is Dutch, and my grandmother would make us oliebol when we traveled from New York to Michigan on holidays,” she said.

There are also a dozen wines on the menu, a variety of fun cocktails and a nice selection of nonalcoholic drinks like Blackberry Elder Flower Spritzer, Ginger Honey Lemon Tonic and Brix Sodas, as well as trifecta brewed coffee.

The trifecta brew system is one of two unique culinary tools Roam has invested in. The other is a Josper Charcoal Oven.

Using 100 percent charcoal to operate, the Josper Charcoal Oven results in a unique flavor and juiciness. Schneider said there are only three restaurants using Josper Charcoal Ovens in the whole country, currently.

Roam is located across from DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall.
Roam is located across from DeVos Place and DeVos Performance Hall.

She said the trifecta system is also unique and just starting to catch on in the coffee industry. The technology allows for control over several variables and results in a cleaner tasting coffee.

The food and coffee aren’t the only things that will spark your wanderlust, the interior at Roam will have you digging out your passport and dreaming of your next destination.

From the bright, airy atmosphere, achieved through towering windows and vibrant colors, to the Peruvian hand blown glass Bulbs dangling from above, as well as the commissioned artwork by Joshua Clark and plants lining the dining room ceiling, just walking into Roam Feels Like being transported to a distant land.

Other unique touches include a bar constructed from reclaimed wood from a barn that once stood in Holland and gas lamps that once lined the sidewalk to Navin Field (Tiger Stadium), pre-electricity. There are also repurposed coffee bags that Schneider has collected from coffee distributors and had redesigned to hold spices and to serve as part of the restaurant’s décor.

Enjoy a taste of Belgium with Roam's chips 'n dips.
Enjoy a taste of Belgium with Roam’s chips ‘n dips.

Roam is located across from DeVos Convention Center and DeVos Performance Hall. The location was selected, Schneider said, because there is a dearth of restaurants along that stretch of Monroe Ave., despite being the center of a strong business crowd.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a full bar and daily happy hour specials.

By introducing Grand Rapids diners to global street foods, the Schneiders hope to once again open up Grand Rapidians’ palate to a wider world of culinary options.

Roam is located at 250 Monroe Ave. NW.

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