Friday, November 25, 2011

...Root 174 [off-topic...kinda]

I have always gotten along better with guys.

I don't know why, but that has most likely been the case.  I guess it's the pettiness that girls have, or the grudges that they hold, or the drama that seems to follow them wherever they go - hanging out with guys is so much simpler. 

When James invited me to go to dinner with his friends Jacob and Matt at Root 174 in Regent Square, I accepted because, 1.) Dinner with James is always a good time, 2.) I wanted to meet his friends, who are guys, and I knew that I would get along with them, and 3.) I had been wanting to try the food at Root 174 since I started following them on Twitter, even though they are not in the genre of food that I normally review.  They use Twitter and Facebook to post menu items and specials, and it always looks and sounds unique and tempting.

Root 174 Facade

James and I were the first to arrive, and Jacob arrived not too long afterwards.  Matt arrived after a few more minutes, and we contemplated our appetizers.  We started with the day-boat scallops, confit wings, and bone marrow creme brulee (all split among the 4 of us to try, of course).

Day-boat Scallops
The scallops melted in my mouth - even though there were only two large scallops which we cut in half for each of us to try, they were definitely the best out of the appetizers.

Confit wings
I think James disagrees with my last statement, because he devoured these confit wings - then proceeded to ask for two more orders.  I had to look up "confit", because I had no idea what that meant: "Confit is a cooking term for a variety of foods, most often meats, preserved by being salted and cooked slowly in their own fat." (Thanks to for the definition!)  I'll admit, they were better than any wings that you would get from a "wing" establishment (e.g. Buffalo Wild Wings, Quaker Steak and Lube...) - not to mention that they were also cooked in a much more complicated manner - but there was much more food to be had!

Bone Marrow Creme Brulee
None of us were impressed with the bone marrow creme brulee.  The consensus was that it tasted like pimiento spread - I like pimiento spread, but I was expecting a bit more out of this.  Not like we didn't eat it all, though!
Brussels Sprouts
We were also presented with brussels sprouts, courtesy of the chef, Keith Fuller, for being such loyal Twitter followers.  I have never, ever had brussels sprouts in my life, and I think that these will spoil me for brussels sprouts forever, as they were AMAZINGLY delicious!  People always complain about how disgusting they are - and these were the complete opposite of disgusting.  I would have never thought to order them, but luckily Chef Fuller knew exactly what to serve us to keep us happy!

Frog Legs

Grilled Romaine

We then ordered more appetizers, including the frog legs and grilled romaine.  Frog legs do pretty much taste like chicken (I've had them before, I just can't remember where), and I never would think to grill a leafy vegetable - but it works!  I was impressed at how tasty the grilled romaine was.

Trout "taco"

Believe it or not, even after all of these appetizers, we still ordered entrees.  I chose the one thing on the menu that sounded Hispanic - a trout "taco" (yes, even on the menu, "taco" was in quotes, so I knew it wasn't going to be very authentic, but I had to try it, regardless!).  It was so, so pretty and so, so delicious.  The trout was cooked perfectly - not dry, very flaky, and not "fishy-tasting", meaning that it was fresh.  The pink and green part is guava, which is a mild tropical fruit that added a subtle tropical flavor.  The chipotle aioli, romaine, black beans, and crab salad that were also part of the "taco" complemented it well.
Grilled Hanger Steak with Fingerling Fries
James chose the grilled hanger steak, which was accompanied by fingerling fries, bleu cheese croquette, and a port wine demi.  I sampled the meat, which he ordered rare, and was surprised at how tender and juicy it was without me feeling like I was eating the flesh right off of the cow.  Usually I don't order meat any less than medium-rare (usually I order it medium), but now I may have to try it rare (in a restaurant that's trustworthy, NOT at a chain!).  The potatoes were a nice accompaniment to the beef (I only sampled one, and potatoes aren't that exciting to me).
Yam Gnocci with Pumpkin Pesto
Matt ordered the yam gnocci with pumpkin pesto, which was my second choice to the trout "taco".  Matt generously allowed each of us to try some, and I would say that having that as my second choice was brilliant.  The gnocci was so full of fall flavors - sage, pumpkin, cranberries - it was like a bowl full of Italian Thanksgiving (not that they have Thanksgiving in Italy - I just imagine that this would be a traditional dish if they did!)

I did not get a picture of Jacob's pork brisket - I thought I did, but I was wrong.  I tried some, and it was pretty delicious, even for someone like me who is not a big fan of pork.
Of course, as we were finishing our entrees, we were asked if we wanted dessert - and how could we say no?  Clearly, the food here was so magical that it caused us each to grow another stomach (and the metabolism to burn it all off, right?  RIGHT?!)

Berry Compote

Our first choice was a berry compote, which was warm and comforting.  I love berries, and in compote form, they are amazing - I tend to put this over ice cream when I make it at home.  It's almost like a berry pie.

PB&J Cheesecake
Our next choice was a PB & J Cheesecake - that, in itself, speaks volumes.  As a lover of all things peanut butter, I'd like to say that I am biased and would love this even if I had to pull it straight out of a pile of dirt to eat it - but luckily, I didn't have to, and it was rich, creamy, peanut buttery, and balanced with the right amount of sweetness from the jelly.

Vegan Chocolate Brownie
Emarie, our fabulous waitress, suggested the vegan chocolate cake-brownie thing (that I can't specifically remember the name for, but we called it the vegan chocolate thing), and the power of suggestion won us over time after time on this visit, so we ordered it.  Emarie is one smart woman, because this chocolate cake was moist and delicious.  People seem to be turned off by the term "vegan", but honestly, all that means is that the pastry is made without eggs and substituted with something else, like in the vegan cupcakes that I have made in the past (that uses soy milk and apple cider vinegar in lieu of eggs).

And I don't know why, but James insisted on the apple and cheese plate.  This was quality cheese, no doubt, and it was delicious, but geez...

Cheese and Apple Plate
It took me days - DAYS - to type this post because of all of the food that was ordered and consumed between the four of us.  The food was amazing, comforting, and savory.  A huge thanks to Keith Fuller for not only cooking us so much delicious food, but also taking the time to come out and say hello to us as loyal Twitter followers.  Also a big thanks to Jacob, Matt, and of course, James, for an evening of entertaining conversation, both about food and not about food.

The best part?  The menu changes, so there will be even more to try over the course of time...perhaps with these new friends (and others!)...

Root 174
113 S. Braddock Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15218


Root 174 on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice write-up!

    I really liked the bone marrow creme brulee, marrow by itself kind of bores me. Not so much a fan of the apple gremolata though.

    Agreed on the PB&J cheesecake.

    The cheese plate does look like a pretty big let down though, I would have expected more variety, this looks like something you could easily make at home.

    will you be continuing to hit other non-Hispanic/Latino spots?

  2. Thanks, Rodzilla! I forgot to mention that the jam that came with the cheese plate was made from grapes from Keith Fuller's backyard - a nice touch, yes, but with all of that food, it wasn't that big of a deal to me.

    I've been going to restaurants with Burgh Gourmand, learning about other restaurants and cuisines in addition to Hispanic/Latino restaurants (it's good to try other types of cuisine, right?); however, I am going to 2 authentic restaurants this week! Yay!