Curiosity got the best of me so I popped into Roots in Ridgewood during opening week to take a peak peek.
Service was friendly, there were a few open spots at the bar, so I made a night of it. It was pretty good, so I figured a quick few words would be in order. I do this, for you. Unfortunately cell phone photos follow...
There was no cocktail list at that point, although I was told one would be coming. I suspect it won't be all that exciting.
The bar and restaurant are beautiful, as one would expect from The Harvest restaurant group. There are hooks under the bar, and perhaps even more exciting, no TVs. I'm not sure how the type of people who I think will want to go here are going to feel about no TVs, but I think it's great. Unfortunately the music was absolutely horrible. Just atrocious. Was it Muzak? It was completely out-of-it, not hip, not interesting, completely lacking in any taste, soul, heart or imagination. I've heard better music at the dentist.
The kitchen is open with the broilers visible from the front dining room and bar. The bar area has a few high-backed booths for two, along with two large tables at the front windows. The back room holds another dining room, and a third which may be used for private parties.
The menu pricing, maddeningly, and amateurishly, has 95 cents tacked on to every item. Charging $79.95 for an item is just plain dumb. That's "80." All of those ".95" make the menu look ugly and overly busy and again, amateurish. Are they trying to be like Applebee's?
As with the other Roots locations, it's a little tricky to navigate the menu if you're looking specifically for dry-aged steaks or USDA Prime offerings. From what I can see, there are no steaks which are both USDA Prime and dry-aged. They're dry-aging only Choice cuts. If I'm wrong then they need to review that menu.
The crab cake was excellent. Lots of crab in a seared, moist cake, with a bit of celery and some other fillings--all of which added to instead of subtracting from the cake. For some reason the pile of greens served along with the crab cake was not dressed. I'm not sure if they meant these greens to function simply as a garnish, but wasting food like that is offensive. A bit of vinegar and oil on those greens would have made a nice partner for the crab cake. If you're going to serve food that you don't want people to eat, then don't serve the food at all, ya know?
The cowboy rib steak is not USDA Prime, but it is dry-aged. Served cleanly and simply on a white plate. The steak was cooked to m/r as ordered, and had a very nice crust on it. Nicely seasoned, and quite tender. The bone and surrounding meat had some nice dry-aged flavor. Quite a good piece of meat, I was surprised to find.
The place isn't cheap, but it's a nice alternative to our mall-based steakhouses in this area (Morton's, etc.)
We'll very likely return.
Update: We returned and had a thoroughly mediocre meal, including not-very-good cocktails and a large piece of overcooked, bland fish. It's unlikely that we'll return.
Roots Steakhouse : 17 Chestnut Street : Ridgewood, NJ