Image Credit: Roots
During a period of overwhelming and ceaseless academic focus that consumed a disproportionate amount of my Easter ‘break’, one evening I was offered a moment of respite in the form of a remarkable and modern cuisine. Named after owner Tommy Banks’ book of the same name, Roots opened its doors in September last year. It is situated on Marygate and tucked away just within the banks of the River Ouse, directly outside the city walls. The latest addition to Banks’ Michelin awarded Black Swan in Olstead, Roots promises to continue his legacy of simplicity, detail and high quality.
I started the evening with a Roots’ original cocktail called Nose to Tail in the upstairs bar: a cosy modest area above the restaurant, kitted out with interesting pieces of furniture. As the name suggests, the cocktail was comprised of swine associated ingredients: bacon calvados, fennel pollen and truffle. These unconventional ingredients combine in a surprisingly appealing drink. Only when I was informed of the ingredients did I begin to detect the subtle and salty notes of this porky pairing.
IMAGE: Eddie Kaziro
When we were informed that our table was ready, a staff member brought our drinks
downstairs to the restaurant. The restaurant resembles the same candour as the bar: minimal, expressed by an agreeing Birchwood interior, occasionally interrupted by neutral grey accents. All elements of grandeur are solely reserved for the cuisine. The ingredients are experimental without being pretentiously abstract. For the food, we decided on the Roots Feast to get an all incorporating finesse of the menu.
The courses are allocated by small sharing plates, initiated by sourdough bread (baked inhouse)
seed crackers, Lincolnshire Pacher Custard and butter. This was a sufficient sized beginner: warm, savoury with a contrasting variety of textures. Although Roots offers vegetarian dishes, meat-eaters will receive an added culinary experience; a notable dish being the Lamb and Fermented Turnip Bao. The lamb was soft, but not sinewy the Bao bun was both delicate and fluffy, and the turnip was detectable, although not excessive.
A stand-out aspect for me was the level of knowledge that the staff possessed. Each course was accompanied by a detailed description, from the origin of the ingredients, to their process and, finally, to the composition of each dish awaiting consumption. The wines were presented with the same amount of scrutiny, providing recommendations beyond the overused ‘white with fish, red with beef ’ proposal.
Coincidently we were recommended a carafe of each: A red Miles Mossop Stellenbosch called The Introduction for starters followed by a white carafe of Le Petit Arvine. Dessert was Rosemary Toast with forced Yorkshire rhubarb compote and honey ice cream. The toast was presented as two soft and steaming parallel cuboids dusted with sugar. The compote was sharp, distinct and greatly accompanied the creamy sweetness of the honey ice cream.
Unfortunately, the restaurant does not adhere to a student budget and I must disclose that hospitable associations granted me the benefit of eating here at a discounted price. Despite the prices not conforming to the budget aesthetics, they are by no means unwarranted.
That said, this is an experience I would highly recommend if only once. I am of course referring to Roots being an essential venue for graduation celebrations, providing your guests are footing the bill.