Edison bulbs strung along the bar, rough-hewn tabletops and ironwork chairs. If this sounds like a turn-of-the-last-century factory, you’d be right.
“We are on Manufacturer’s Road where all the industrial buildings are,” explains Bar Manager Mandi Carrera. “We just wanted a laid back atmosphere.”
Nestled on a corner of 2 North Shore, the former “Elements” was transformed back in August of 2014 to become the Root Kitchen and Wine Bar. “We upgraded our recipes and our menu,” explains Carrera about the transformation.
The food is an eclectic mixture of pub-style dishes with a strong emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. Root Kitchen works with small farmers throughout the Tennessee Valley to bring fresh organic fod from farm to table. Some of the more recognizable names that they buy from are Anson Mills, Crabtree Farms, Otter Creek Trout Farm and the Mennonite Delano Farms in Benton, Tennessee.
Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant also offers a Sunday Brunch. For starters, you can choose from appetizers like the Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Crab Cakes topped with Tennessee Sea Island red pea caviar, green tomato and sorghum coulis or their favorite Fried Green Tomatoes.
Next, you might try the Otter Creek Trout Hash (house-cured trout, red potato hash, roasted peppers and dill crème) or the Shrimp and Grits featuring Carolina Coast shrimp and local Anson Mills Grits with an andouille pan gravy.
They also have one of the best Brunswick stews anywhere, and it’s not even on the menu. “We just can’t keep it,” says Carrera, “It’s just one of the ‘soup of the day’ offerings.
Along with the food, Root Kitchen also does business with local distilleries and microbreweries to stock their extensive bar. The beer tap rotates with a broad selection of beers, lagers and ales, some seasonal choices, and special limited editions. Beyond drinks that come with a head, the wine selection covers a range including Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Zinfandels, Pinot Noirs, Roses and Champagnes.
Root Kitchen’s mixed drink list is a blend of whimsical, classic, and down-to-business offerings. One of their most popular cocktails is the “Beeten Elderly Mule.” It’s a local take on the Moscow Mule that includes Hana Gin, St. Germain Elderberry Liqueur, Beet Puree (notice the spelling of ‘Beeten’) Fresh Ginger Juice and Lime Juice with a splash of soda water.
Watching Carrera assemble this drink reminds one of a mad scientist in the laboratory. She gets a special grin when she drops the citrus slice on top for the garnish. Other drinks have similarly inventive names such as Short Mountain Stumble, The Bondurant’s Bathtub, and Root Whiskey Sour—made with Cumberland Cask, Benedictine, a house-made sour mix, and egg whites.
The bottled beer collection has the standard Buds and Michelobs but also has Amstel Lights, Krombacher Pilsner, Highland Porter and Duck Rabbit Milk Stout for the more adventurous palette. And, yes, they have growlers as well. They also offer brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings until 3 p.m. with Mimosa and Bloody Mary specials (Sundays they also have a fantastic Bloody Mary bar).
Most of the regulars are those who live in the condos around the Northshore, but let’s not keep it their little secret. Root Kitchen and Wine Bar is definitely a good fit for anyone seeking a unique casual dining experience.