1818 N. Hubbard
Reservations required for 1st floor fine dining.
Basement casual dining is first come, first serve - just grab a table
I’ve heard lots of good things about this restaurant in the recent past. Everything from “..it’s just too awesome..” to “..I love their dessert..” to “.. I have no idea what I ate, but it was pretty good..” So, curious, I decided to grab a couple friends and check it out.
From what I had heard, this was a “vegetarian-friendly” place .. so I had images of my worst visits to Beans & Barley in mind when we arrived at the restaurant (I am most decidedly a carnivore). When we got there, a smartly conservative dressed girl greets us and asks us for our reservations. Well - I didn’t know that there was actually a restaurant in Milwaukee that still took reservations. She informed us that the upstairs (which was only about half full) was booked for the evening, but we could seat ourselves in the basement for a more casual experience. After taking a look around the 1st floor dining room, filled with perfect people, with perfect hair, perfect cloths, perfect makeup, and perfect manners, all talking in subdued tones over their glasses of red wine .. we all decided we would be more comfortable in the basement, whatever that was.
So, down we go, and we are greeted by noise .. not the loud obnoxiousness of most “bars” that serve food .. but the din of people having a good time. We quickly found a table and settled ourselves down, and the waitress was right there as soon as the last person got their jacket off and sat down. She explained to us newbies that the upstairs was all fine dining, but down here was casual dining - different atmospheres, but the same menu from the same kitchen. Great deal! This was much more comfortable than the upper crust trendy feel of the upstairs. We all kicked back, and ordered drinks.
The water came first (as usual) - with a slice of lemon and a slice of cucumber in it to give it a fresh taste (and to hide the fact that Milwaukee tap water tastes god-awful). Our drinks followed shortly - a round of beer for everyone! Their selection on tap was quite good (great selection of micro-brew as well as Ale & Stouts .. there was a noticeable lack of watered down domestic beer - which was not missed at all)
L. and I started our meal with the soup of the day .. a divine winter squash soup garnished with white truffle oil and some sort of green sprout that had a bit of a bite to it - perfect compliment to the sweeter taste of the soup.
Dinner was fabulous! Shrimp penne pasta for me - with a light garlic sauce and sun dried tomatoes. This dish was just *bursting* with shrimp! A pleasant surprise. I was expecting pasta with token shrimp and got a whole school of the things instead! The tomatoes gave a great accent to the savory sauce. The sauce was perfect intensity - not too strong, not too weak, and not drowning the pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love sauce - I just feel bad when I get a plate of pasta and immediately feel the need to throw it a life-jacket.
The sandwiches the others ordered looked yummy as well (and if the noticeable lack of conversation after dinner was served was any indication - they were well enjoyed!) The yucca chips they served with them were a great alternative to the traditional potato chips - slightly sweeter, but a little more oily. Paper thin texture, but lots of flavor.
Dessert was a sinful combination of crème de Brule and chocolate mousse. I could have died a happy girl with that combination! Definitely need to go back, if only for that! The mousse was perfectly savory - sweet, rich, just a bit bitter, the way chocolate is supposed to taste. And I can’t say enough good things about the crème de Brule .. but, I’m a little biased, it’s my favorite dessert, and you have to do a lot of work to wreck it.
All in all - I was impressed with Roots - at least the basement of Roots. The service was excellent, the food, tho a little prices for the entrée’s, was reasonable for the quality you got. I will definitely be visiting here again.
I wish I had made the journey when the outdoor patio was open. Would have been nice to have a table outside overlooking the Milwaukee River and downtown.