I had heard wonderful things about The Root Restaurants & Bar for quite some time. It was named restaurant of the year in 2012 by the Detroit Free Press and it came highly recommended from a local chef who shares my love of local, seasonal food. It’s about 45 minutes from our home, in an area that neither of us have really explored. My birthday last week helped push us past any excuses we had left to go.
The restaurant is located in a strip mall and that initially surprised us. Their corner spot, however, allowed them to set up a nice place with large glass windows and plenty of outdoor seating. Inside, guests are greeted with natural elements like warm wood lining the walls and a partition of illuminated branches that separates each side of the restaurant. Gallery-style photos of fresh produce and farms add to the natural feel. Depending on where you’re sitting, guests can see the bright kitchen bustling. It also has one of those contemporary bathrooms that makes me want to remodel my own immediately. Everything was done tastefully and the atmosphere is perfectly casual. The wait staff wears dark denim, black shirts and black aprons. At one table, a guy sported a suit while his date wore a little black dress. Two tables over, a family of four was dressed casually and looked just as relaxed.
They offer a regular menu of their fresh, seasonal food, but they also offer a tasting menu. The tasting menu is divided into a house selection or a vegan selection and includes 4 courses with an intermezzo (or palate cleanser) before the entrée. We quickly decided on the tasting menu to get the most variety and we both added the wine pairing.
Our waitress was fantastic. She told us about the restaurant’s focus on local products and was really excited when we chose the tasting. We made our selections and before she took our menus, told us that we had chosen well.
Marc started with the Pan-Seared Scallops in brown butter with grapefruit, caper, brussel sprout, pistachio and white bean purée.
I started with the Baked Michigan Brie in Puff Pastry with arugula, dried cherry, radish and apple drizzled with Michigan cherry, maple and black pepper vinaigrette. Both dishes were fantastic! I was partial to mine with the fall touches and cheese wrapped in puff pastry can never be bad, right? Marc’s scallops were perfectly cooked and I enjoyed the unique flavor combination of the grapefruit and pistachio. They paired our first course with a sparkling wine from Traverse City, L. Mawby’s Blanc de Blancs. It tasted like crisp apples and was a great match for our food.
Marc’s second course was the Vegan Greenhouse Fattoush with cucumber, tomato, hydroponic watercress, baked local pita, sumac and a lemon herb dressing. A lovely salad, indeed.
My second course was the soup du jour (anyone else immaturely thinking of Dumb and Dumber right now?) which was a Spicy Curry Cauliflower soup garnished with pickled raisins and sliced almonds. This soup was so good that I am actively trying to recreate it at home. The warming effect of the spice was intoxicating and the pickled raisins added a nice contrast. It was a generous portion and Marc happily had half. This course was paired with Black Star Farms unoaked Chardonnay, which was very nice.
Our Intermezzo was a Lillet Orange Sorbet that tasted like frozen freshly-squeezed orange juice. It was very refreshing with pure orange flavor.
Marc’s entrée was Spicer’s Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with smoked cheddar grits and green apple salsa verde. The acidic nature of the salsa verde added a nice punch to the tender meat and creamy grits.
My entrée was the Crispy Skin Rushing Waters Rainbow Trout with Guernsey creamed corn, cippolini roasted fingerling potatoes, pickled local peppers and sage oil. This was my favorite dish of the night. The fish was cooked perfectly and the combination of the creamed corn with the sage oil took it over the top. This course was served with a wine that is already one of our favorites, Chateau Grand Traverse’s Gamay Noir. A light-bodied, dry red wine that seems to go with everything.
Marc’s final course was lemon and lavender crème brulee with an espresso. It was divine! Lemon and lavender were clearly meant for each other.
For dessert, I ordered the Michigan apple pie with walnut streusel top and maple browned butter gelato on the side. All of my pie dreams came true. A traditional pie executed perfectly with amazing gelato. Our dessert course was paired with Six Grapes Port which tasted like plum jam and raisin.
We loved everything about The Root. The atmosphere and the service made us feel right at home while the food will keep us coming back. It’s a gem.
The Root Restaurant & Bar
340 Towns Center Blvd.
White Lake, Michigan 48386