This new restaurant gives vegetables the centre stage, writes Sammy Milton
Chicken Shed was one of those perfectly good ideas that didn’t quite pan out. Whilst I’m a huge fan of fried chicken, it seemed organic chickens did not make for the best frying, so Josh Eggleton gallantly accepted defeat and closed the unit based in Cargo 1. However, within a matter of days, he’d quickly turned it around and, whilst working with the incredibly talented Eat, Drink Bristol Fashion, opened Root in its place.
With the main emphasis being on the humble vegetable with meat as a side offering, Root has gathered quite the following since its opening. With all the fuss, we decided to see what it’s all about and, let me tell you, it was quite the experience!
Arriving on a sunny Wednesday evening, the place was heaving. Seated comfortably at the bar (with the best views of the busy open kitchen), we ordered some drinks and perused the menu. As promised, the vegetables were the stars, and whilst there was a much smaller meat section, the emphasis was clear. We went ahead and ordered a few things and soaked up the happy, chatty atmosphere whilst we waited.
Up first was the gruyere cheese and onion croquette (£2.50). Oh, how I love croquettes, and these were sublime.
Full of gooey cheese and punchy pieces of onion, they were warming, decadent and delicious. A great start. This was quickly followed by the cider rarebit on sourdough toast with sauerkraut (£6.00). A slightly hefty portion, this was everything cheese on toast wishes it could be. The rich béchamel was undercut by the tang of the cider, and the sauerkraut offered a sourness that was most welcome.
Next came Hereford leeks, charred and fermented, with a deep fried, soft-boiled egg and romesco sauce (£6.00). What a treat this was. The leeks were cooked beautifully and charred to perfection, the sauce added depth and flavour, whilst the egg was simply brilliant. It’s a deep fried, soft-boiled egg. What’s not to love?
We couldn’t resist trying the meat that was on offer. We opted for a slab of pork jowl that came steaming hot, with lots of fat, crackling and a hearty jus (£5.00). This was so good. The meat melted in your mouth, the fat was incredible and the crackling added bite. We followed this with one of the specials – razor clams in a rich sauce and droppings of dill oil. Unlike anything I’ve eaten before, it was extremely fresh and reminiscent of something you’d eat at the seaside – quite the idea I imagine. Either way, it was a wonderful, inventive dish that clearly had a lot of thought put into it.
For dessert we went with something simply called ‘treacle’ (they know my weakness) and a crème caramel. Both priced between £5–£6, they didn’t disappoint. Treacle was a tower of sweet nuts and fudge atop a treacle-soaked sponge, topped with Chantilly cream and shards of caramel. It was divine. Sweet without being overbearing, and the crème caramel was just as good. Cooked perfectly (it had the satisfying wobble), it was rich and classic, as it should be.
Root encompasses everything that’s wonderful about vegetables, and turns them into show-stopping pieces that would turn any meat-eater. The staff were efficient and friendly (the chef personally served and explained every dish to us), and it won’t break the bank either. It seems the cat’s already out of the bag, but get down to Root as soon as possible to try it out for yourself.
Cargo, Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Warf, Bristol
0117 930 0260