Root 174

by Rodzilla on October 13, 2011 · 7 comments

Quite a few new restaurants opened in Pittsburgh while I was on the other Coast, but none of them caught  my attention so much as  Root 174. I first became interested last May when I heard Chef/Owner Kieth Fuller (previously of Six Penn) planned to open his first sole venture in the old Legume spot. After reading initial reviews of the great “cultivated comfort food” from the other side of the country, that interest turned into excitement. I’ve been back in the Pittsburgh area for a few weeks and only now got around to visiting…I’m sorry it took me so long.

Being the ass that I am, I forgot to take off the automatic flash setting for this shot.

I really like what they’ve done with the interior (see here for comparison). Space is still tight but it feels cozy more than cramped, and seems to be fitting for a staff. Speaking of the staff – they’re great. Our friendly waitress Marie knew the menu like the back of her hand, ditto the affable GM Will Groves who made it a point to come by and chat with us throughout the evening.

The menu rotates frequently but will always caters to a variety of diets. I was joined by my favorite veg-head and can say with confidence that the vegetarian options are definitely not an afterthought. We each ordered an appetizer to start.

Warm salad of forest mushrooms, arugula, leeks, lentils, egg

Pairing the earthy flavor of  mushrooms and lentils with the richness of yolk poached egg made this one of the heartiest salads I’ve had. Construction aside, it reminded me more of a stew, and a great one at that.

Day-boat sea scallops, bacon, acorn squash hash, hazelnuts, brown butter demi

As great as the scallops were with their sweet crusty sear and rare interior, it was the hash that won me over. Acorn squash is a favorite fall flavor, and combining it with just enough bacon, and the more delicate sauteed shallots really allowed it to come through.

Vegan "meatloaf", root vegetable polenta, brussels sprout leaves smoky rasin jam

Making the transition to entrees, the “meatloaf” once again showed that vegetarian options are well within the scope of  hearty comfort food. A dense mix of black beans and quinoa sat on top of a root vegetable polenta. That polenta was more a blend of mostly parsnip, the flavor was mild on it’s own so it really benefited from the slightly bitter sprouts and savory sweet raisin jam.

Chicken breast, braised greens with bacon, black-eyed pea waffle, spicy honey

The chicken breast had a great crispy skin, and moist interior. Whole black eyed peas could be found throughout the dense waffle pieces, which is now the only way I want to eat peas and greens. The spicy honey (cayenne, paprika, and garlic) gave a great flavor and very mild heat. Everything combined mad for in a  fun take on a Southern comfort classic, and easily my favorite dish of the night.

Comment Card - Don't change a thing

The excitement I had going in had doubled by the time I left. The Pittsburgh dining cene has been on the rise recently, and after only one visit I’m ready to place Root 174 with tops of the list. Don’t worry if that sounds premature, I plan on returning very soon to try more of the menu and make certain that the team at Root 174 have created a new must visit in Pittsburgh.

Root 174 on Urbanspoon

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chuck

Man that all looks great- especially the waffles. I just got into Chicago and my friends got in later than I did, so we walked to a block to a semi-famous Rockit Bar and they grabbed food. Kobe beef burger with brie cheese, garlic aioli, and served with parmesan truffle fries. Man, it looked awesome but I didn’t try any…

Ever been to Chicago? If so, any restaurant recommendations?

2 Kate

Everything looks great!!

3 Bob

This place is literally right around the block from where my brother lives. Is this right by the McBrew’s on the corner on a little strip of restaurants (there is a thai place, six pack place, and a hot dog place). Correct me if I am wrong? Awesome eats!

4 Rodzilla

Chuck, thanks my man – I haven’t been to Chicago yet myself, but have spent a good time dreaming about the places I would like to go. Check out Slice’s pizza map
and chowhound for other recs around the area

Kate – thank you much, it was

Bob – yep , they’re right across the street from Ds Sixpack and Dogs. They’re BYOB so you could run over and make your own 6pack before coming to the restaurant ($5 dollar corkage) Also, they offer a discount to people in the same zip code. You and your brother should definitely visit.

5 Chefprotoss

Micro-greens… On everything? Worst garnish ever next to a sprig of parsley. Does anyone get excited about micro-greens? Nope. If you want color make some basil oil or something that adds to the dish. Don’t just hurl a bunch of tiny leaves at the plate.

Sorry, I’m sure that food was great but thats a huge pet peeve of mine.=)

6 James

Wow I’m really surprised at how good the vegetarian stuff looks. That would be impressive even here in Sunny SoCal.

For the hash, was it basically equal parts potato and acorn squash – was both the potato and squash cooked through or was any of it a little al dente?

7 Rodzilla

Chef – no worries, at times they add a bit to the dish – I only mind when they really don’t fit and are added in such an amount that they become a distraction.

James – yeah, I really like when a restaurant can make a vegan dish into a true entree rather than a mix-mash of starters. I would love for them to do something like a vegetarian scotch egg..thinking back to our time at Blanca.

I would say the hash was equal parts, both were quite firm actually, obviously the squash was softer by default but they didn’t let it turn to mush. Really a great texture, and the shallots had that candy sweetness you get when they’re really cooked down.

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