Root 174 – First Sunday and a Birthday

by Rodzilla on December 7, 2011 · 13 comments

PB&J Cheesecake

Here’s why I’m kind of a shitty reviewer – I find a few favorite places, and stick to them. Once I like something it’s hell to tear me away. I might end up writing about the same place 2, 3, or umpteen times. Good thing the majority of them have  rotational menus.

Here’s why I’m most definitely a shitty son, friend, and in this case brother. When your Birthday comes around, we’re going out to eat. Sure, I’ll ask you where you want to go, but I know very well that you’re going to leave that up to me. I’ll take pictures of my food, and depending on how close we are – I’ll do the same to yours. It really is more a gift to me than it is to you, but chances are you’ll like it.
So it should come as no surprise that in honor of my sister’s birthday, I gifted myself a trip to Root 174 for their first Sunday opening. Of course my sister and her fiance were invited.

When we arrived for our reservations at 6:30 there were still quite a few tables available, but by the time we left nearly every seat was filled. I suppose it had to do something with the food, and maybe some recent praise from some guy named Mark Bittman.


Mussels - tomato-chipotle broth, yams, arugula, corn bread

Mussels were on special, and the Sarahdactyl considers herself a fan. The highlight for me was the grilled corn bread – dense, buttery and great for sopping up the spicy-sweet broth.

Bone Marrow Creme Brulee

Bone Marrow Creme Brulee - parmesan, local apple gremolata, baguette

This was really what I came for. I had wanted to try it on my first visit, but it wasn’t a fitting appetizer when dining with a vegetarian. I’m glad I came back for it. The brulee itself was still lightly sweet from the cream, but had unctuous marrow undertones, and a crisped Parmesan top. I preferred it without the apple germolata, but I could see others liking the tangy contrast.

Salmon Sausage

Salmon Sausage - cocoa cranberry couscous, pea tendrils, crispy skin

The salmon sausage was another special, and yes that is the most phallic looking sausage I’ve ever seen. It was also my least favorite dish of the night (favorite presentation though!). The flaked salmon filling reminded me more of a salty salmon jerky and the pea tendrils could have stood another minute in the sautee pan. I would have preferred a seared filet to go with  the cocoa cranberry couscous, which I did enjoy.

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese - cheddar, fontina, apple brandy, brussels sprouts, onion, apple

A more successful special was Fuller’s Mac and Cheese. A rustic dish, chuck full of heavy hitters. This was also where I found the same girl who had just happily eaten bone marrow to be curiously apprehensive about the greenery in her dish. Come to find that in 25 years of living, my sister had never tasted a brussels sprout before..our father is vegetarian, how the hell could this happen? I’ll leave disucssion on terrible parenting for the comments and get back to the food – not a bad way to try your first brussels sprouts.

Grilled Hanger Steak

Grilled Hanger Steak - blue cheese croquette, fingerling fries, port wine demi

Continuing with the heavies, Dan opted for steak and potatoes. A flavorful and perfectly medium rare hanger, with crisp fingerling potatoes, and topped with deep fried cheese. That’s winning.

A Birthday isn’t a birthday without cake, and so we split two of them.

PB&J Cheesecake

PB&J Cheesecake - Wonder bread angel food cake, strawberry jelly

The PB&J Cheesecake was studded with bits of peanut butter crumbles, it was served with a slightly denser angelfood cake that looked like a play on Wonder bread, and strawberry jelly. We we’re already quite full, but we all kept going back for one last more bite.

Chocolate Expresso Cake

Chocolate Expresso Cake - vanilla bourbon icing, berry curd

I’m not going to say the PB&J cheesecake was topped, but if it could be this is why. A dense, fudgey pseudo-brownie topped with vanilla bourbon icing and a creamy (I want to say blueberry) curd. I would so gladly make myself sick on a tub of that icing, and given how full I was I nearly did with a mere spoonful.

I mentioned earlier that by the time we left nearly every seat was filled. Despite a full house, we never felt rushed and were always well taken care of.  So there you have it, Root 174 remains a favorite, and a great place to give yourself a gift on someone else’s birthday.

*thanks Sarahdactyl and Dan, had a great time.
Root 174 on Urbanspoon

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa

that brownie….need to have now. it looks SOOO dense and fudgy :)

2 Jess

either your photo skills are just improving or that is literally the largest tureen of mac and cheese i’ve ever seen. the brussels sprouts look like golf balls! that dinner has me salivating.

3 Kevin

^I agree with Jess; your photography skills have definitely improved. Nice photos, bro.

That Mac & Cheese looks perfect: crusty top, and I’m sure the inside was loaded with creamy, gooey goodness (TWSS). And I really did think that those slices of angel food cake were slices of white bread. Looks great.

4 James

It looks like some of the mussels didn’t open? I know you’re in Pitt, but see maybe 10 mussels and 2 that didn’t open… That is kinda a bad ratio?

I’ll agree with Jess and Kevin in that your photo skills are definitely getting better.

As for how you ended up at Root 174, I don’t think you’re a bad person. They enjoyed it and had fun I’m sure and it’s the thought that counts :)

5 Emily

That all looks so fantastic. Awesome photos, Rod. So sad I missed out! I have to try the marrow, that’s the first serving presentation out of the bone ( the only yhing tha’s made me apprehensive) that I’ve seen around here!! Excellent review and great gift!!

6 Quelcy

Ha… a shitty reviewer and dining companion. Oh do I relate! I once made my friend continue to stand so he wouldn’t be in my shot of HIS food! It was there he drew the line for my food reviewing antics, not that I really changed my ways. I have been wanting and wanting to get to this restaurant, and this review just confirmed it all. Hopefully this weekend!! Thanks for sharing!

7 Chuck

Haha this was written really well! I’d love to get some salmon sausage

8 donuts4dinner

The fact that I’ve never had mac & cheese topped with Brussels sprouts is now making me feel like there’s a big, gaping hole in my stomach. And also my heart.

9 Rodzilla

Jess, Kev – Thanks for the photo compliments. The mac & cheese was definitely a winner, I loved the apple/cheddar pairing.

James – We actually have some decent fish markets in PGH. I had to work to open 1 or 2, but I wasn’t upset by it.

Em- Dinner. Soon. Next week?

Quelcy – I’ll never disturb other tables or purposely draw attention to myself….but disturbing other friends and fam, that’s just part of dining with me :D

Katie – It’s a great pairing. I’ll take peas with my kraft blue box, and brussells when we’re fancying things up a bit :D

Thanks for the photo comments all.

10 Chefprotoss

Nice review and great pics as well, but… umm… some of those mussels were dead before cooking or not cooked enough. They should all be opened fully. You dodged a bullet there buddy.

11 Lot-O-Choc

Wow it all looks so good…the cheesecake looks amazinggg!

12 Lily

I’ve heard you show substantial asperity in dealing with your family in just about all areas.

13 Matt

I normally take the bad friend, son, brother, etc one step further in that when i go out to eat with people, its pretty much expected that everything the group orders is a communal dish once youve taken the first bite. i think that everyone should at least try a bite of each thing on the table. i also think that i should at least try a second, and third, bite of each thing

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