Root & Bone: Bringing Southern Fried to the Lower East Side
I find myself eating a lot in the neighborhoods below 14th Street (and, increasingly, in Brooklyn), which is not at all unusual among New Yorkers from every part of town. My latest venture was down to what used to be called Alphabet City but is now really just the East Village – to the newest hotspot, Root & Bone.
Home Cooking, Stellar Sides & Southern Fried
Sprawling all comfortable- and casual-like on East Third Street just west of Avenue B in the old Mama's spot, Root & Bone has been slinging first-rate Southern-style food to large and lively crowds every night since it opened in late June. If you're anywhere near the place, for any reason at all, you should definitely consider stopping in for a feast. The talented duo behind the hotspot are none other than Jeff MicInnis and Janine Booth, the newest Top Chef alumni to bring their knives to NYC – the same pair who earned raves for their previous venture, also a fried-chicken-centric restaurant – Yardbird in Miami. Clearly McInnis and Booth have a real flair for taking Southern comfort-food classics and, by throwing a dash of creativity and a little bit of love into the mix, elevating these increasingly ubiquitous dishes into something special. Take the Root and Bone Fried Chicken, the menu's centerpiece. This is a solid bird, with the requisite crispy/juicy texture combo, but it's the "sweet tea brining" and dusting of lemon that make it, maybe not better, but definitely different than, say, the great Bobwhite Lunch Counter over on Avenue C. Oh, and I give two greasy thumbs up to the "spiked Tabasco honey" dipping sauce – although i wish it had been two or three times more spicy.
Comfort Food WIth an Attitude
Another "bigger plate" worth getting from the Root & Bone menu is the Shrimp and Grits, for which McInnis and Booth combine about half a dozen sweet and tender grilled shrimps with creamy grits, funky and chewy country ham, and Brooklyn Lager jus for some earthiness. This makes for a satisfying supper. All of the starters and sides are appealing, but for me so far the winner has been the namesake Roots, which is basically a plate of caramelized roasted carrots (of several different colors), drenched in "carrot top" pesto, with a side of just-fried potato chips. Less successful was the gimmicky Grilled Sweet Corn, which was more starchy than crisp (and not all that sweet), disappointing especially for this time of year, when even you or I can easily get our hands on brilliantly fresh, explosively-flavored ears at any greenmarket in town. And the popcorn and fried hominy looked festive on the plate, but didn't really add much, taste-wise.
Menu and More Information on Root & Bone
Root & Bone is located on East Third Street just west of Avenue B, and is open for dinner every day from 5:30 to 11:30, and for brunch on the weekends from 11:30 to 3:30.
Check out all the delciousness on the complete Root & Bone menu.
Posted in Downtown, NYC Dining | Tagged Fried Chicken • Lower East Side • restaurant • Root & Bone • Southern Food • Top Chef