Putting down Roots: A Chef’s Table at Roots Restaurant
Behold, quality casual fine dining in Yadkin County. Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge Winery opened its doors four months ago with two young, eager superstar chefs at the helm.
Roots is hailed as a hidden gem and is located at the vineyard’s grounds in Boonville. Within the gorgeous timber-framed tasting room, Roots is at least the fourth incarnation of the restaurant space in recent years. For whatever reason, previous tenants of the kitchen space haven’t been able to make a go of it. It’s not the easiest place in the world to get to even though it’s only about 25 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. It is best to make a day trip of it, tour the wine country and let your final stop be at Roots.
You have seen the work of Chefs Ben Hurst and Brent Andruzzi if you follow your favorite eateries on any social media. Hurst trained Andruzzi at River Birch Lodge, and Andruzzi left Willow’s Bistro to take on this new venture. Hurst said he was going to open a food truck and use the kitchen as a commissary when owner Cindy Shore approached him about running a full-fledged restaurant there.
“I wasn’t sure about it. I hadn’t even managed a business much less started one. And then I asked Brent to come on board.”
Andruzzi said no, but clarifies that it was a kind, apologetic no. A month later, Andruzzi had a change of heart, and the no became an enthusiastic, yes.
Hurst said his goal at Roots is to create dishes that people can’t get at home.
“Even as a chef, I when I eat out, I don’t want my experience to be something I can create at home,” he said. “I want it to be surprising, full of flavor, creative…something you can’t quite replicate in your own kitchen.”
Duck Two Way Tostadas with Duck Sauce, Radish, Scallion, Housemade Pork Rinds
Out of the gate, the chefs immediately showcased their ability to take an upscale protein and make it attainable tapas-style.
Pimento Cheese Stuffed Poblano with Bacon Jam and Cilantro Scallion Cream
This course may have been close to my favorite dish of the evening just because it was so different from anything I’ve ever had before. The spicy poblano filled with Sanders Ridge’s now-famous pimento cheese and bacon jam. Both. Together. Some of us had to clear our throat, but the scallion cream cut the heat of the slightly devilish kick from that pepper. The people, said “wow.” The pimento cheese and bacon jam are available for purchase at the winery as well as Cobblestone Farmer’s Market in Winston-Salem.
Lemon Basil Freeze Pops
Before the courses emerged, Chef Hurst gave the guests a teaser of what was to come and simply said there would be a surprise in between two of the courses. So these platters full of freezer pops that looked like smaller grown-up versions of the bright and colorful pops we all grew up with were met with delight from each table. The basil complemented the fresh slightly sweet lemony-ness. I felt myself wanting another pop later. A freezer full of those on a summer day would not be the worst thing.
Shortbread Herb-crusted Scallop, Greenhouse Salad, Strawberry Vinaigrette, Pickled Onions
I’d heard accolades from the scallop dishes, so I am glad the chefs decided to feature these on their menu this evening. If I’m coming back to eat in the future (and I will), I’m getting scallops.
Ribeye over Basil Bread Pudding, Local Mushrooms, Fig Jam, Fair Share Farm Micros
A very close No. 2 to my favorite, a beef course will always be a winner in my book and for most carnivores. The steak was perfectly cooked, and the savory bread pudding was so delicious with it.
Note: Roots has a menu item that is called “Deconstructed Beef Wellington.” I imagined the flavor profile is not so different though the execution might be. I’ve been told it’s incredible. After tasting this dish, I have no doubt.
Strawberry, Blueberry Shortcake and Sugar Cookie with Homemade Ice Cream
A beautiful summery dish with sweet berries, perfect cake, and richly textured ice cream rounded out our evening and was a great ending.
The chefs re-emerged from the kitchen to applause and a standing ovation. Chef’s Tables are always stellar, but these young chefs received such praise that it was genuinely heartwarming.
Hannah Waggoner, of Rural Hall, has been to many Chef Table events and she even got the proverbial ball rolling on getting the Roots event off the ground.
“My first visit to Roots made my foodie heart happy,” she said. “All the dishes my table ordered were loaded with flavor, finesse, and beautifully plated. The staff were friendly and accommodating. I knew that Roots would be an excellent location for a Chef’s Table.”
Waggoner said she knew it would pay off.
“The guests were not disappointed. Each of the five courses was unique and delicious. It was great to get a taste of some of Roots’ specialty dishes with a few surprises.”
How’s this for making a name for itself? USA Today’s Readers’ Choice for The Top 10 Winery Restaurants and at press time, Roots Restaurant was at No. 4. Folks can vote daily through Aug. 20.
(For info and to vote, visit the website.)
If there’s anything I’d say at this point, it’s this, Yadkin County; this is your moment. Finally, there’s a restaurant in the area that celebrates not only the wine country but the wonderful bounty that the area brings forth. I grew up in Yadkin County and having to go to Winston-Salem for a great meal was a top complaint. If a restaurant of this caliber can succeed with Yadkin’s and its big-city neighbors’ support, it will pave the way for other restaurants like it. Napa wasn’t built in a day. It’s taken 170 years, plus it survived Prohibition and the Great Depression. You might consider the Yadkin Valley winemakers pioneers here. The restaurant owners want to blaze a trail much like their West Coast counterparts. The talent and deliciousness are there, and Roots Restaurant is digging deep and taking a chance on the area’s support.
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
Roots Restaurant at Sanders Ridge located at 3200 Round Hill Road, Boonville. Open Thursday from 5:30-9 p.m. for family-style supper (check website or Facebook for details). Full-service menu Fridays and Saturdays from 5-9 p.m. Full-service lunch is available in the tasting room Friday-Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The wine bar also has a full menu available from noon-5 p.m. Visit www.sandersridge.com for info.