Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Root 174 - Deja Vu

On Saturday, DB~ and I went to Root 174 for a post-Valentine's Day dinner.  It was a little odd going to Root 174 for Valentine's Day considering that just two years ago we went to its predecessor, Legume, for Valentine's Day.  Legume moved in 2012 to a new space in Oakland and set up a decor so hideous that we have no interest in going back.

When Legume was on Braddock Avenue in Regent Square, it had a French country kitchen decor.  When we walked into Root, we were greeted with low lighting and earthy color tones on the walls.  The perimeter of the walls were edged in sheet metal.  Unfortunately, the sheet metal was warped and dinged in multiple places which took away from the vibe a little bit.

As is the trend nowadays, Root has a hand-crafted cocktails menu made by a barman replete with a vest.  I chose the North Shore Connector, which I thought was fitting.  It was a great choice as Boyd & Blair Vodka is always so smooth, especially with the other add-ins and bitters.

For an appetizer, I wanted to go off the reservation a little bit.  Secretly, I enjoy making DB~ expand her culinary boundaries and getting her out of her comfort zone.  So I chose the bone marrow creme brulee.  Not sure exactly how you make it, but sure enough it came out in a tiny ramekin with a blowtorched crust on top.  There were some tiny toasts to spread the bone marrow on to.  The bone marrow had a rich, buttery taste.  I'm glad we tried it, but I probably wouldn't seek it out again.

Root's menu changes daily, so the two dishes that we had on Saturday may not always be there.  If they are, there many be subtle changes to them.  DB~ selected an Asian-themed chicken dish.  It was a chicken breast topped with kimchee, some hand rolled "rice tubes", a wasabi aioli, and cashews.  It was a very simple, yet tasty, combination of flavors, especially with a slight hoison sauce glaze.

My dinner was a cassoulet of duck confit (a small breast), pork belly (a nice sized cube), and one link of spiced pork sausage, served on a bed of white beans.  This dish was easily one of my Top 5 ever dishes that I've ever had.  The duck was perfectly seasoned and prepared to the point that the meat was falling off the bone.  The pork belly was the true star as the top of it was crusted and crunchy.  The remainder of the belly had the fat cooked into the meat matrix to the point that it melted in my mouth.  The sausage was the weakest of the three, but it was still fantastic and packed with flavor.

For dessert, we selected a Nutella Bread Pudding, mostly because DB~ would encase herself in Nutella if it were socially acceptable.  Three medium sized cubes came on a plate with warm Nutella dipping zones.

Here's an interesting societal observation -- at one point at the end of the night, I counted 32 people in the restaurant, including easily-seen staff.  Of those 32 people, 7 people were bald.  I'm not talking receding hairlines --- I'm talking shaved heads or bald.  That seemed like a HUGE number to me, especially considering that not all 32 were men.

Here's a second fun fact -- Keith Fuller is the Chef/Owner of Root, but a 2nd co-owner is Pat Bollinger, the drummer for Anti-Flag.  Anti-Flag is a activist punk band that is one of the more famous and worldwide-accepted bands to come out of Pittsburgh.  Pat has been a vegetarian since 18 and is a fan of Keith Fuller's, so it was a natural fit for him to help fund the setup.

We will definitely be back for a second go-around at Root 174, perhaps with DB~'s aunt next time.

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