Getting Back to My Roots

Paul and I very rarely get to go out on actual dinner dates anymore. I could blame it on having a toddler, but we have plenty of babysitting options. I could also blame it on lack of restaurants, but I live in Chicago so you know that would be a lie. It’s pretty much because I’m exhausted and the idea of planning a date night, much less executing one really stresses me out.

Then, I go on vacation… to my parents’ house… and Mr. Moo’s maternal grandparents rarely get to see him. When they do, they tend to carry him around like a giant, wiggly, man purse and give you the cold stink eye anytime you want to make him walk anywhere. Just so I wouldn’t have to witness the spoiling, I finally said, “Have him for a night. Paul and I are going to dinner.”

The Root Restaurant LogoWhile my parents took Mr. Moo for ice cream and God knows what other wonderful treats that mean Mommy and Daddy never let him have, Paul and I headed for White Lake, Michigan to the Root Restaurant. The reviews (both online and in print) were glowing.

So, we make the 45 minute drive out there—over the freeway, through winding roads, around lakes and forests. (And, now is the time when I say, “Jeez, White Lake sure has gotten built up since I was there last… oh, about 20 years ago.” Then I feel like an old person remembering when this was all dinky cottages and crazy farms.) Anyway, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting a restaurant in a strip mall between the Kmart and the JCPenny. But there you have it.

We walked in, and it felt a bit disjointed. There’s outdoor seating in front (abutting the parking lot) and tile floors with modern wood everywhere else inside. A bar with crazy bright lights runs along the back, and they have a few flat panel TV screens. Like an organic California-esque sports bar stuck in suburbia.

And, then we ate. Oh my word. I forgot about the interior decor and the strip mall location and the long drive.

What We Ate

Both Paul and I ordered off of the tasting menu. In my humble opinion, if you’re only going to go once, go with this option. For the $40 house option, you get a first course (three choices), second course (four choices), intermezzo, entree (four choices), and dessert (a ton of choices). If you want to go with the vegan option, it will run you $29. And, you can still get the vegan entree option with the house tasting option. It’s just ridiculous.

The menu changes seasonally, so I’m not going to delve into every dish we ordered. Some of the highlights for both of us included:

  • Pan fried crab cakes: They came with avocado mousse and mango poblano salsa. A complete surprise explosion of Mexican and Southern flavors.
  • Watermelon and arugula salad: Crisp and refreshing with a traditional balsamic syrup. There were nuts that gave it a nice textural change from the usual.
  • Half chicken: Served with a mountain of seasonal vegetables. An amazingly large plate that after the other courses was just enough food to almost put you over the top.
  • Root Campfire Cup: The most heavenly dessert I’ve ever had the pleasure of staring down. Dark chocolate pudding cake with toasted marshmallow and homemade graham cracker. Not your Mama’s s’mores.

What We Drank

Before ordering food, we each had a cocktail. I went with the Real Housewife of White Lake (trust me, it was tough to order). But it was so yummy: vodka, Cointreau, raspberry syrup, lemonade, and cucumber. I could sit poolside and drink those all afternoon (and I don’t even like sitting poolside!) Paul had something with gin that made me want to gag a bit.

Now, here is the second best part about Root. If you order off of the tasting menu, you can do a wine (additional $15) or beer (additional $9) pairing. These are not wimpy pours either. I did wine and Paul did beer. Our waitress was incredibly knowledgeable about each glass that came to the table. The pairings were pretty spot on with each course (and yes, there was a glass for the dessert course as well). The beers are all local Michigan craft beers. The wine list (thankfully) is a mix of Michigan and traditional wine regions. Now, don’t get your undies in a bunch, Michigan wineries… but seriously, it’s going to be a long day before you can rival the likes of Italy, France, or Napa.

Then, we had espressos and sat for a while since we had a 45 minute drive home. (I completely forgot about that aspect of going out in Michigan. I so wouldn’t have ordered that first cocktail if I had known the pours were going to be that healthy.)

If you can get over the location and decor, the food is amazing. I’m not really sure about prices for dinner in the Detroit suburbs, but for my money, it’s an amazing deal.

Location: 340 Town Center Blvd, White Lake, MI. Parking is obviously free. They’re also open for lunch. I will definitely be back.

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