A New Take on Southern Comfort @ Root & Bone

***UPDATED ON 4/7/15 WITH NEW RATING AND OTHER COMMENTS***

Name: Root & Bone

NGM Rating: A-/B+

Restaurant Inspection Rating: A

Website: http://www.rootnbone.com/

Location: 200 E. 3rd Street, NY, NY 10009

Cuisine: Southern Cooking

Owner/Chef: Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth

When did it open: July 2014

Ambiance: Total rustic farmhouse feel. I am actually pretty fond of what they’ve done with the small space. Antique china, awesome light fixtures and lots of wood. … can’t say rustic without wood, right? If you are only with one other person, and the weather permits, definitely try to sit at the long high-top table along the window sill. Great for people-watching, fresh air and a relaxing way to enjoy a meal here.

Menu highlights: Fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken. Get it? Order it! And if you really want to go over the top, order the cheddar buckwheat waffles to accompany the chicken. Yes, there are a lot of other delicious things on the menu here too. Like, fried chicken and waffles of course! Biscuits also complement the chicken well. The restaurant has changed the menu since I went but there was also a delicious grilled peach “Caprese” salad. The Caprese part wasn’t your typical buffalo mozzarella, but rather a fried ball of pimiento cheese – inventive, over-the-top and delicious all in one bite. On my most recent visit, the menu was updated and Root & Bone served an amazing butternut squash served with a pepper marshmallow. Sounds a little strange, but the flavor made my eyes pop (in a good way). Lastly, don’t leave without a cocktail. Men, you’re officially warned, some of the drinks come in very girly glasses (or teacups even) so you might want some guidance from your server.

What I didn’t get to try: Waffle fries, cheese grits, deviled eggs, and, most importantly, DESSERT! I was too full by the end of the meal both times i’ve dined at the restaurant. They had some killer looking ones.

Constructive criticisms: The major disappointment for me was the BLT, which Root & Bone has since rotated out of the menu. While I had solid service on my first visit to Root & Bone, I have since been disappointed on a subsequent visit. My waitress was short, rude and clearly had no interest in her job. We were in the middle of eating our appetizers when she brought out our entrees and just tried to shove them on our already over-crowded table. When we asked her to send them back to the kitchen, she refused and left the food there to get cold as we finished our appetizers. I really like the food here and think the ambiance is great, but this experience tarnished my high opinion of the place.  Go at an off-peak time so you avoid long waits due to lack of reservations. Generally, my feeling is this place is a newcomer that’s sure to be a hot spot for some time.

Best for: Fun night out, casual meal with friends (small groups are better), casual date, weekend brunch, fun celebration and for those yearning to try out a great new spot. Also, Root & Bone has a late-night menu, live music and bar specials during the weekend until 2 a.m. I haven’t taken advantage of this yet, but hope to soon.

Dress Code: Flannel and jeans. Ladies, throw on some fun boots or heels to make it interesting.

Average Pricing: Cocktails: $13, Appetizers: $12, Entrees: $25

Reservations: Reservations now available on OpenTable.

 

 

 

Going Dutch for Brunch

Now that the summer is over and everyone has migrated back to the City weekend Brunch season is back en vogue. Brunch is a favorite weekend activity for many and there is never a shortage of places to go for a hearty omelette served with a side of Bloody Mary or Mimosa. I happen to be a huge fan of the New York City Brunch scene and take advantage of the options whenever I can. This weekend I grabbed a girlfriend and headed down to SoHo for a Saturday rendezvous at the Dutch.

Brunch can be very tricky at times. Some places take reservations and others force you to be brave showing up as a walk-in where you always run the risk of an hour-long wait. …sometimes even longer! I get a bit nervous about showing up to brunch spots without a reservation for this exact reason. I fear the long wait where my begins stomach grumble and my head pounds from the night before, as I simultaneously watch my Saturday afternoon drift away. This weekend I decided to take the plunge and go for the no-reservation approach since the Dutch had been on my bucket list for quite some time. The worst thing that could have happened was needing to wait for an hour and going shopping in the heart of SoHo to kill time. Sounds terrible, right? Just kidding! When I arrived at the Dutch, however, I was pleasantly surprised with no wait and being seated immediately.

Before diving into the food, I must first take a brief moment to note the restaurant’s interior design.  Roman + Williams takes credit for designing the space and should take great comfort in the work done. I am no decorator or anything, but I can always appreciate a well-done restaurant when it is clear that the details were selected with care.  I was impressed by its casual but sleek design that is most reminiscent of a neighborhood bistro. The wooden tables and black leather banquets give it a polished feel, while the white brick walls and light fixtures give the dining room a soft brightness. The bar is welcoming and well-designed, and even though the dining room was bustling it did not feel over-run by people and the tables were appropriately spaced apart. I want to say it reminded me most of The Smith Midtown or Schiller’s, but I do not even think that comparison does the Dutch justice. Bottom line – the place was laid out very well and kudos to the “master” of design.

One key to a brunch menu is the ability to balance the sweet with savory and breakfast with lunch items. I frequently become frustrated with restaurants that claim to serve brunch and end up being posers with a menu that is 85% lunch items and may offer one egg dish, some granola or something silly like that. The name brunch itself derives equally from breakfast and lunch, so the menu should be reflective as such. I was pleased to see the Dutch’s menu balances the meal well and my only problem was getting through the offerings to make any sort of decision. I happened to be in the mood for some sweet and savory, which presented my first ordering conflict. Do I go with the famous fried chicken, almond french toast or fried eggs? The fried chicken looked amazing but I would probably leave needing a nap and the french toast was just a little more sweet than I was ready for at that point in time. The waiter came to our table twice before my friend and I were ready to decide, but we finally found a happy medium between all our cravings. We would share something sweet and then order two savory main dishes, both of the breakfast variety.

The Dutch offers items from “Kierin’s Pastry Board” and that was going to satisfy the sweet craving. We then asked our waiter to recommend two savory menu items and thank goodness he happened to pick the two already on our radar.  We went with the Two Fried Eggs, Hominy Grits, Chorizo, Guajillo Salsa and the Poached Eggs, Cheddar Biscuit, Country Ham and Chipotle. For those in the mood for more of a boozie brunch (my head couldn’t handle it that afternoon) the Dutch offers some tempting cocktail choices to complement the meal. My friend was ready to start the day so she ordered a Bloody Mary. The glass filled with tomato juice and vodka looked more like a piece of art when it came to the table than a simple cocktail (see the photo).

The first thing to arrive at the table was our plate of pastries. There were three options on the menu- a hazelnut scone, curry sugar donut and a poppy-seed muffin – that we obviously had some initial trouble choosing from. Our waiter suggested we order all three as each was well worth the sampling. Since he went on to tell us the portions were small and it would not overwhelm the meal we heeded the advice and waved in all the pastries. The portions were not all that mini, but I accepted the false advertising after my first bite because these pastries were definitely worth the extra caloric intake. The muffin was probably my favorite as lemony, poppy-seed treats usually win me over. Then it was time for the eggs.  The fried eggs were placed in front of me, but we shared both dishes. The dish came with two sunny-side up eggs that were placed atop the creamy grits with a generous portion of chorizo on the side. It was a nice twist between southern home cooking and a Mexican breakfast, with some awesome flavor. The poached eggs were the Dutch’s rendition of classic Eggs Benedict. Two delicately poached eggs on a savory cheddar biscuit topped with a chipotle hollandaise-like sauce. Flavor was not lacking in these eggs either and the chipotle added an extra kick.

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I think our waiter steered us well overall and neither my friend nor I was disappointed with the Brunch experience. The one other menu item he claimed to be a “must try” was the Almond French Toast with Bananas Foster, but as mentioned before I was not ready for that much sugar. I am saving that for another time along with the fried chicken (because yes, I will go back). Which leads me to my next note. From the hostess to our waiter and the bus boys, the staff was warm and friendly. Our waiter never seemed frustrated by our indecision and seemed almost giddy that we called upon his opinion on the menu. He was energetic and helpful, which only enhanced the pleasant environment. I will have to go back to test out the consistency, but overall a good report card on service here.

The Dutch would be a good choice for any sort of occasion. In terms of brunch, it’s a great venue to catch up with one friend, bring a group of friends or even take someone on a date. My next visit will be for dinner (if I can score a table), but I would imagine the same applies, I will even go out on a limb and say it would be a really fun, lively place to go for a business outing. It’s upscale and pristine, but not stuffy and over-the-top and the menu choices will satisfy many people’s diverse taste. The restaurant is also open late so if you get the late night craving for good eats the Dutch will be there to serve you.

The Dutch, 131 Sullivan Street, NY, NY 10012. Phone: (212) 677-6200.

When To Book: The Dutch accepts reservations by phone up to 30 days in advance and also welcomes walk-ins. Getting a table for dinner can be difficult and I would highly suggest calling those 30 days prior. Otherwise you can try your luck walking in, but be prepared for a wait.