Like practically every other girl in her mid-twenties, I adore Andy Cohen and his gaggle of Bravo-lebrities. I consider myself a bit of a seasoned veteran as I started watching The Real Housewives since season one and still remember when Project Runway premiered on the network. Above all, Top Chef has always been and still is my favorite show.
Obviously, I love food and exploring new restaurants, and fortunately I have a family that shares the same interests. Starting my senior year of high school, we huddled around the TV after dinner each week and watched Tiffani battle Harold for the crown.
Fast forward nearly a decade (wow!), and I am still dutifully following my cheftestants. I’ve even converted my boyfriend Andrew into a fan, although he may just be watching for Padma. Once we heard that two Top Chef alums owned the new restaurant that just opened across the street from his apartment, this eatery immediately claimed the top spot in our collective To-Brunch list.
We had kept a watchful eye on Root & Bone during construction and were thrilled that it immediately garnered accolades from various food critics across the city. We finally pulled the trigger on trying it out on a great occasion, the morning after Andrew’s 27th birthday. Root & Bone opens for brunch at 11:30 a.m. and by the time we strolled over at 11:45, we were already faced with a one hour wait.
Exactly one hour later, we were joined by our friends Jaime and Daniel and seated in the corner of the tiny restaurant. Root & Bone may be small, but it was filled to the brim with grinning patrons over steaming plates of Southern specialties. The ambiance was absolutely adorable – open-air, bright, and charming. I delighted over small details like the antler beer taps and rustic, single-bulb chandeliers.
Our friendly Australian server immediately presented robust menus and much-needed water. After Andrew’s birthday festivities the night prior, we were all a bit gun-shy to drink again and all stuck to sweet tea. By this hour, we had mustered up an appetite and immediately ordered Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits. These biscuits lived up their name; they tasted like they were straight from heaven. I held in my inner fangirl when Chef Jeff McInnis came over to our table and helpfully instructed the proper biscuit eating technique. Although this starter comes with three biscuits, Chef Jeff thoughtfully brought over a fourth biscuit so we could all have a proper serving. We each grabbed our flaky, steaming hot biscuits, dunked it in honey roasted chicken jus, and finally dusted this creation with fresh thyme and toasted benne seed-sea salt. The combination of buttery bread with salty and sweet flavors started our meal on an outstanding note.
There were so many tasty options on the menu that we selected a variety of dishes to share family-style because we couldn’t just commit to one. The first dish to arrive was the crispy free-range bucket of bird and cheddar waffle. The fried chicken was soaked overnight allowing a complex range of flavors to seep in and it had the perfect balance of breading to meat. The half-bird was ideal to share with a group of four paired with bites of the fluffy waffle. My one qualm was that the waffle seemed a little undercooked, but it was hardly noticeable under a pool of whiskey maple syrup and thick, melted cheddar cheese.
After noticing plate after plate of the fried chicken and waffle sandwiches emerge from the kitchen, we were intrigued and placed an order for the table. This dish was tasty, and made for some great Instagram food porn, but was largely duplicative of the fried chicken bucket with cheddar waffle. Pretty much the only difference between the two dishes was that the chicken was boneless and served with greens in between the waffles. I would recommend ordering one or the other next time.
Jaime often claims to be a psychic (I can attest to the powers of her third-eye) and on an unrelated note requested the braised short rib meatloaf and eggs to share. This must have been some sort of prophecy because it was one of the standouts of the brunch. We barely touched the eggs, but came back time and time again to steal nibbles of the tender, well-seasoned short rib. I loved compiling the perfect bite between the short rib and parsnip root mash, which mimicked the taste and consistency of mashed potatoes.
The birthday boy had his eyes on the side of mac n’ cheese, so mac n’ cheese was dutifully ordered. I only had the appetite to muster up a few bites, but this small plate was a hit among the group. The decadent dish comprised big elbow macaroni noodles topped with crunchy cheese toast and a fresh thyme crust. It was so rich that we had enough to bring home in a doggy bag.
We decided that after all of this rich comfort food, it would be in our best interest to round out our meal with some fruits and vegetables. We selected the Southern Peach Caprese out of a handful of salads on the menu and were drawn to the inventive take on a classic tomato salad. The salad was easy to share and contained a refreshing serving of grilled peaches, heirloom tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes, and fried pimento cheese. Of course, this was Southern style so at least one element had to be fried.
Both from Atlanta, Jaime and Daniel are the ultimate authority in Southern cuisine and gave brunch at Root & Bone a resounding thumbs up. I couldn’t help but agree. The dishes were interesting with local, seasonal touches and the service was outstanding. Although the restaurant was jam-packed, we were well attended to and never rushed.
The Bitches say: A. The perfect neighborhood spot for some comfort food and Southern hospitality. Don’t miss the biscuits and fried chicken, there’s even a take-out window!
Root & Bone
200 E. 3rd St.
New York, NY
Root & Bone serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.