I first encountered Roots when I attended taste of Joburg and sampled some of the menu. I was very impressed but I didn’t really pursue actually going there.
Then, the name kept popping up in the foodie circles and I knew I couldn’t procrastinate any longer – we HAD to do it.
Being located at the Cradle of Humankind, Roots is relatively far from where we all reside. I therefore thought a brunch would be best. No late night driving, no being consumed by wine and more importantly, we would get to see the beautiful landscape during the day. So having made the call, I gathered the troops and off we went.
Team: only 5 of us this time as most of the team were otherwise occupied.
Décor: As already mentioned, Roots is situated at the Cradle of Humankind and the décor ties in perfectly with the surroundings. The restaurant overlooks a little lake/pond vibe and if you’re lucky enough, you can get a table on the deck – right on the water’s edge. We sat inside which was just as nice. Minimal décor offset by giant canvas prints of different local produce. The toilets deserve a mention as these unisex abodes were spectacular – I even went twice they were that good.
Vibe: Roots was packed. Granted, there was an Audi function taking place at the time. Nonetheless, the restaurant was filled with an array of clientele who were clearly there to enjoy the food. Roots is a special occasion kind of place so the people there have chosen it for a reason. I wasn’t there at night so I don’t really have an opinion on the night-time vibe. I don’t imagine people are swinging from the chandeliers though – it just isn’t that kind of restaurant. You go there for the food, that’s really all you need.
Service: Seriously lacking. We had to ask for drinks countless times and I had to search for quite some time to locate our waiter, or service ambassador – Roots’ description not mine. I understand that the focus is on the food but I really don’t want to ask for something to drink over and over again.
Food: Brunch at Roots is a set menu and will set you back R210.00 per person. For this price you get 5 courses, tea, coffee, juice and/or a glass of champagne. Note: if you choose to drink something other than the aforementioned, you will be charged accordingly. This, was not explained to us but no biggie.
Course 1: Yoghurt mousse served with seasonal fruit and Grenache. Teeny tiny jar filled with an incredibly light strawberry yoghurt mousse, a couple of pieces of fruit and Grenache – I had no idea what Grenache was at the time and had no idea subsequent to eating the dish. My friend Wiki (aka Wikipedia) tells me that Grenache is “one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world” Funny, I didn’t notice any red wine grapes in my mousse. There were chocolate shavings and cubes of a chocolatey-jelly. In retrospect, maybe I assumed the cubes were chocolate cos they were brown – maybe that was the Grenache? Sure tasted like chocolate though. Anyway, I digress – I thought the mousse could have been colder but otherwise, this was a fantastic dish.
Course 2: whole-wheat flapjacks and crispy bacon served with a grilled tomato, peas and maple jus. Loved how this dish was plated but was disappointed in the overall flavour. The flapjacks were great but the bacon, albeit tasty, was definitely not crispy. My tomato wasn’t grilled and was too thick for my liking. I love peas but I didn’t get the combination. Overall I felt the dish lacked salt where it needed salt and lacked sweetness where it needed to be sweet < – ——- that sentence probably made no sense to you but if you had tasted the dish you would understand. My least favourite dish of the day.
Course 3: Aptly named “The study of Mushrooms”. Mushroom frittata, confit tomatos, spring onions and basil shoots. For those of you who are unsure – a frittata is a sort of crustless quiche-come-omelette. Roots’muffin sized frittata was sensational… all eggy and mushroomy! In addition to those items described on the menu, the dish also came with a mushroom puree of sorts. It literally, blew my mind. I never knew you could pack so much mushroom flavour into a tiny smudge of a puree. Deliciously savoury and satisfying. My dish of the day.
Course 4: Chocolate dipped pavlova served with gooseberry sorbet. The former part of that description was slightly misleading. When I think pavlova, I think a huge meringue cake smothered with all things delicious. What I got was 2 small meringues dipped in chocolate. Sure, they were tasty, but they certainly did not equate to a pavlova. The hero of this dish was the gooseberry sorbet. If, like me, you have only tasted a gooseberry in its natural original form, you will know that this tiny berry will suck the saliva clear out your mouth. Well, not this time. The sorbet was perfectly tart without being overly sour. A perfect cooling accompaniment to the sugary meringue (note: meringue NOT pavlova) and the sweet chocolate.
Course 5: Mini croissant, scone and muffin served with butter and preserves. Oops, I forgot to take a photo but to be honest, it wasn’t really photo worthy. The pastries, which were served family style, were nice and moist and I ate all three (obviously). But, they were just pastries.
Instead of three pastries served with butter and jam, I would have preferred maybe one pastry and some toast with a selection of cheeses. I like ending a meal with a good hunk of cheese – just saying.
Although the service was lacking, overall, I was really impressed with roots. Fantastic food in a fantastic setting. What more could you possibly want? Oh, I know, some cheese!
Seriously though, Roots is definitely worth the drive and is very deserving of the accolades it has received. I will be making arrangement to return soon for a lunch or dinner.
Hats off to the chef!
Note: contact Roots on 011 668 7000 or www.forumnhomini.co.za