There’s no better place to linger over a leisurely dinner or Sunday brunch than Roots Restaurant and Cellar. Nestled atop the rapidly-evolving Brewers Hill area, Roots not only offers one of the most spectacular views of downtown Milwaukee, but it also serves up some of the most creative culinary fare in town.
In fact, Roots’ back-to-earth approach and their flavorful food have garnered attention both locally and beyond, earning acclaim from magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appétit. It’s one of those places you want to visit again and again, and that you want to recommend to every single person you know.
The evening we went was bracingly cold, rainy and wet, but the minute we stepped inside the softly lit upstairs dining room the chill melted. The clean, modern lines of the interior, decorated in that chic, eco-inspired style so prevalent on the West Coast lent things an air of casual-elegance. We hung up our coats and settled into our seats, looking out upon a sublime view of lights twinkling in the ever-deepening dark.
Our waiter arrived soon after, offering us a small plate of lemon, lime, or cucumber (!) for our water, and filled us in on the evening’s specials. Since the menu already included a number of items that piqued my interest, the addition of a few new things complicated my selection process a little. Really, how does one choose between duck confit made with gingersnaps, chicory mascarpone, filbert candies and shaving cream, and seared sea scallops with spiced pumpkin and pepita empanadas for starters? And what do you do when you’re torn between an entrée of truffle seared tenderloin with chevre whipped potatoes and black truffle mushrooms, and the grilled dates with cranberry served alongside some kasha and wild rice with pumpkin foam?
I’ll tell you what you do. You change your mind entirely and decide to go with something completely different just as the waiter arrives to take your order. Thus we ended up sipping a spicy, warm bowl of artichoke and red pepper soup, followed by house salads tossed with tomatoes, English cucumbers, and a well-balanced vinaigrette.
A plate of olive oil poached Mahi, with some cardamom-smoked couscous mixed with a handful of cured olives found its way in front of me next. To be honest, the fish seemed a little on the dry side, but the couscous was excellent. Scott’s bowl of Southwestern-inspired beef tip stew was also flavorful.
For dessert we split a rich, chocolate confection with a small scoop of pumpkin ice cream. It was a divine way to wrap up a beautiful meal, after which we reluctantly bundled up and headed back out into the cold, Wisconsin night.
Roots Restaurant and Cellar
1818 N. Hubbard St.
Milwaukee, WI 53212