By Louis Dennison, First Year History of Art
The Croft Magazine// Once home to the construction sight of Isambard Brunel’s construction sight of the SS Great Britain in 1843, which also doubled as a stage for public hangings 20 years prior, the newly energised Wapping Wharf is situated in the heart of what once was the industrial powerhouse of the city. Like many neighbourhoods over the country, the historical dock has been gobbled up by the gentrification of small plates and natural wines, but in the case of Root, the chosen restaurant/cargo container is decidedly for the better.
The setting of the stacked cargo containers revives the industrial feel, whilst providing a new history for the area; Root is situated on one of the top containers with a narrow and well-lit terrace that led to our small but homely table inside. After momentarily fumbling with the more modern sliding door, we were greeted by a very gently spoken and warm Scouse lad who prompted us to scan a QR code for the menu, a fitting idea for a restaurant who focuses on local, seasonal and sustainable produce in a vegetable forward menu, but also slightly anxiety inducing when my phone habitually dies when I most need it.
Luckily my companion Ruby had a trustier steed, and from there we devised an arrangement of cocktails and small plates which our waiter arranged on our table like a neat puzzle to avoid injury.
We both started with a Grapefruit Margarita (£9.5) which was well balanced but could have been punchier for the price point; this was soon followed by the first two puzzle pieces, first, BBQ Marsala Carrots (£9) and second, Cider braised Tropea Onion (£9). The Marsala Carrots were the highlight dish for us both, the yoghurt was paired with a very fragrant curry-leaf oil which completely transformed the carrot, although the carrot acted as a vessel, it was still nicely sweet as well as slightly alkaline from the outer charred regions – complimentary to the creaminess of the dish.
The second plate of the Tropea onion was slightly underwhelming, being served lukewarm at best and the Cider braise seemed lost in translation on the palette, fortunately the toasted hazelnuts provided something unique, whilst the raw apple slices as a garnish seemed rather half-hearted.
Next, we opted for the Grilled Leeks (£9), again, this was paired with a beautiful Ottolenghi-esque yoghurt and oil combination, this time with a green goddess sauce which had a nice tang as well as fragrant and with a herbaceous perfume. The leeks were extremely juicy and melted in the mouth, and the crispy shallots gave a welcome juxtaposition to all the creamy elements. The last savoury dish of the night was the whole Mackerel (£15) which was grilled and then finished with an aromatic Korean chilli sauce which had a warming toastiness from the sesame, but also a nice, sweet kick from the Gochujang.
Unfortunately, on the student budget the price point was slightly eyewatering, since the mackerel had not been filleted, nor deboned. We were left with little meat, at no fault of their own as mackerel isn’t gigantic, but the quality of flavour and the freshness was unfaltering – a great example from the head chef Rob Howell that local, seasonal produce can define the class of a restaurant.
To finish we shared a Chocolate and Blood Orange cake/brownie/tart and served with crème fraiche and a blood orange marmalade (£7.5). I was apprehensive about the crème fraiche; however, it completed the puzzle of flavours with the richness of the chocolate and a viscous sweetness of the marmalade and for both of us it was utterly flawless, slightly pipping the BBQ carrots to top spot.
Overall, the food was almost spot on, with a few tweaks and slightly larger table sizes, Root will only become more popular and at around £30 a head including alcohol, this is seriously good value for money considering the quality of produce and thought behind each dish and drink.
Food and Drink– 8.5/10
Staff and Service – 10/10
Atmosphere and Décor - 8/10
Featured Image by Root Restaurant Social Media
Have you tried out Root yet?