January 24, 2013

Root 174

          For my birthday this year we decided to try a place that I have been wanting to go to since they opened, Root 174.  My wife and I met up with some friends and my brother for dinner.  From what I heard about this chef and his food I knew we picked a good spot for dinner.
          We passed by the restaurant a few times it was just a bit hard to see it was dark out and there weren't any lights on the sign and the sign is all dark colors but we had a general idea of where it was located so it wasn't that hard to find.  We arrived right on time for our reservations and were seated as soon as we got there.  The first thing I noticed  was that the place is pretty small, dark, and it gets really loud when it fills up.  After looking at the menu we decided to start off with the mussels and fried Brussels sprouts. At this time we also put in our entree order and caught up with each other.  Our appetizers came out and they smelled delicious,  the mussels were in a bowl covered with crispy shoestring frites and submerged in a fragrant chipotle tomato broth.   The sprouts were golden brown and piled high in a bowl.  The mussels were tender and the tomato broth paired so great with the salty mussels.  The broth had the right amount of heat to not overpower the dish but it lets you know its there.  There was some frisee tucked under the mussels, it was a pleasant surprise, the frisee soaked up the broth almost like how you would use bread.  The sprouts didn't disappoint either, they were fried and crispy on the outside and still had a bit of a natural crunch on the inside.  I am not a fan of soggy vegetables, I like them with some texture.  What I liked best about the sprouts was that they had a sauce that was sweet and peppery.  The sauce is listed as a bacon black pepper glaze but it almost tasted like a teriyaki sauce.  The sauce is what made the dish,  I couldn't tell you if the sprouts were sweet or if it was the sauce but it had a sweet start with a peppery ending.  If we left right then and there I would have been very, very happy.
          Soon after our entrees came out, I got the chicken and waffles, my wife got the char and my brother go the sirloin   Okay I have to admit I have never had chicken and waffles it always sounded weird to me.  Breakfast for dinner I thought okay lets do it.  Amazing.  It works, the dish was a yam and shredded chicken thigh waffle drizzled with a bourbon syrup topped with a roasted chicken breast and gingered deviled quail eggs.  The waffle itself wasn't too sweet and the syrup was a perfect combination of bourbon and syrup.  Everything just flowed together, it didn't feel like breakfast food at all, it was sweet, it was savory, it was the best of both worlds without going too far in one direction.  The gingered deviled eggs were a good combo too, it was the full circle of breakfast foods.
          The dish my wife and both of our friends went with was the char.  It was a crispy skinned char on top of kale with a cippolini onion sauce, harissa and an olive salad.  At the time I couldn't remember what harissa was and no one else at the table knew so they ordered it.  I remembered very fast when I put it in my mouth.  The char was very good, a nice cracker like skin, the fish itself tastes just like salmon.  The bitterness of the kale and brineyness of the olive salad made for a perfect bite with the fish.  When the harissa was added it made for a great bite when you know what harissa is and are prepared for it.  Harissa is a hot chili paste and when you are not ready for it the spiciness of the sauce takes you by surprise.  I love hot foods and this was really good, I was just very surprised, I wasn't expecting it on a light fish dish.  My brother tasted it and said I was a wuss but he was prepared I was not.  I am not a fan of cippolini onions but everyone else seemed to like them, so all in all a really good dish.
         It was my birthday so we decided to get some desserts, the options were flour-less chocolate cake, pumpkin roll and Nutella bread pudding.  Three pumpkin rolls, two chocolate cakes and zero Nutella is what our table ordered.  Pumpkin rolls are near the top of the list when it comes to my favorite desserts but anything Nutella is always high up there too, I could have tasted someone elses pumpkin roll thats all I am saying.  Anyways, the roll was deconstructed and was great, everything you would have expected from it, the pumpkin cake, the frosting and a citrus glaze.  The gaze by itself was not all that good, it was almost a bit bitter, but when everything was put together it brought a freshness to the roll.  The flour-less cake, I don't think the girls understood what a flour-less cake was.  The cake was super dense, almost like fudge, super chocolaty and came with a side of beet ice cream.  I tried a bit and I must say I am not a chocolate dessert person and I am not a beet fan at all, so I think I am not the right person to review the cake.  The girls liked the dessert they said everything paired well but they felt it really wasn't a cake.  Dessert like everything else from Root 174 was a success.
          Overall, this restaurant is a top destination for anyone who likes food in the Pittsburgh area.  The experience was one of the best I have had.  After I ate here I emailed Chef Fuller and asked to interview him for the Giant Eagle newsletter, I have to say he did not disappoint.  The food is creative, tasty and reasonably priced.  I will be back for sure, this restaurant is a top 3 for me.

Overall 9 of 10
Food 9.5 of 10
Price 9 of 10
Service 8.5 of 10

1113 South Braddock Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15218

Root 174 on Urbanspoon

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