Y’all. I’ve spent some quality time with Root & Bone. And as a proud child of a summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Wake Forest University in tobacco country, I feel morally obligated to proclaim: THIS is what the Southern cookin’ and eatin’ experience is supposed to look like.
First of all, if you’ve been to Elsa (RIP), The Cardinal, or both, Root & Bone captures the perfect cross between those two awesome East Village joints. Laid back and small, yet classy. Reasonably priced and casual, yet impressive in delivery.
But most importantly, the food is excellent. For example, the Southern Greens Caesar salad is like a regular caesar salad that went to Buddha school, achieved Nirvana, then came back and decided we were worthy of enlightenment. Even the things at this new restaurant that aren’t perfect - like the cheddar waffles - are so good that we ate them like they were free. Meaning quickly and with gusto.
Then there’s the fried chicken basket. It will stay with me forever. On my hips and in my heart. There’s so much to say, but in short, f*ck locally sourced chickens. The only chickens I ever want to spend time with from here on out must come from the South and have been bathed in sweet tea since hatch. And with that glorious chicken comes a sauce that I firmly believe is the elixir of life disguised as a condiment. As soon as I discovered it, it was all I could taste, see or want. It’s hot sauce meets honey meets... that’s about when I blacked out.
Of course, Root & Bone is still quite new. So it’s no surprise that we found one slight flaw. You see, I consider myself a mac and cheese connoisseur and was a bit disappointed in what Root & Bone brought to the table on that front. It reminded me a lot of the stuff I used to get at summer camp, which was great because the cheese was kind of grainy, and it efficiently carbo-loaded you for post-dinner capture-the-flag. But at a restaurant where everything else is on another level, I expected more.
So with a few growing pains on the menu and an incredibly long wait, Root and Bone is by no means perfect. But it has all of the fundamentals it needs to become a consistently awesome must-hit for the East Village in the very near future. Until then, I’ll just be sitting on their stoop, googling how much fried chicken you can eat before developing gout and pondering the religiopolitical implications of whiskey maple syrup.
I’m still in awe of this beautiful mess of a traditional Caesar salad. Sitting atop perfectly chopped and mixed kale and collard and mustard greens lay all the good things about the world: a perfectly cooked soft egg, bacon bits that deserve a dish of their own, and some other unidentifiable fried things.
My only complaint on these precious creatures is that they’re cruelly small. As soon as you realize you’re consuming the most carefully seasoned pastry on the planet, it’s already gone down your esophagus. #AmericaProblems.
A very pretty and fairly tasty bite of food. Not sure we’d order this again, but we weren’t mad at it.
Try not to stick your cocktail straw into the little tub of spiked Tabasco honey sauce. In the words of my dear friend Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
As someone who grew up on Eggos, I feel pretty well-versed in sub-par waffles and the cheddar waffles at Root & Bone are anything but. But I would be lying if I said their moist doughiness didn’t border on undercooked. So even though I ate them, enjoyed them, and lived to talk about it, be warned that they may not be as cooked as you’d like.
It’s macaroni and it has cheese, but it lacks the flavor and crunchiness that the menu promises. So until they work some gnarly Southern magic into this dish, I recommend cashing in your digestive bandwidth elsewhere.