Roots and Rye (R&R) is one of the newest Santana Row restaurants. It's tucked in next to Maggiano's and Kara's Cupcakes in a space that previously housed Roux Louisiana Kitchen and Hot Tamales. I'm not a big fan of the decor, which makes the whole restaurant look like it is still under construction. However, I hear that they are going to run plants and vegetation on those exposed wood pillars which would provide a unique effect. Like their sister restaurants Straights and Sino, they have a unique restroom that is partially unisex--might as well get that out of the way now so that there are no awkward surprises ;).
They have an impressive outdoor patio space with plenty of heat lamps. R&R also features live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. A nice Jazz band was playing while we dined there the second time around.
So now, let's get to the good stuff... the food. They recently changed their menu to focus more on small, shareable plates that are available all day. They still have some main courses that are available after 5pm. R&R also has a long list of unique craft cocktails and bourbons.
SMALL BITES (SERVED ALL DAY)
Parmesan Fries with a 63 degree egg, fines herbs, truffle aioli - This is their signature small plate and an absolute must-try. You can either dunk the fries into the egg, or pour the egg on top of the parmesan fries. I could eat this all day.
Brussel Sprouts with parmesan, capers, red wine vinegar - Brussel sprouts are usually not my favorite side to order, but these were outstanding. The lemon zest and capers added an extra kick and help make this a perfect addition to your meal.
BIG BITES (5PM TIL CLOSE)
Fried Petaluma Chicken with house-made apple sauce, brussel leaves, mustard caviar, pickled vegetables, apple cider jus - Excellent chicken with crispy skin exploding with flavor. They nailed this dish and the accompaniments.
Beef Short Rib with potato puree, caramelized roots, charred leeks, red wine jus - This dish was just okay. It was standard fare for short rib and did not blow my away like the chicken. I would have rather ordered two more small plates instead of this, which seem to be R&R's strong suit.
Fried Apple Pie with honey crisp apples, roasted quince, creme fraiche ice cream, cider reduction - Save some room for dessert, and order this! If you like apple pie, this dessert will not disappoint.
Candy Bar Tart with chocolate ganache, salted caramel, spanish peanut nougatine ice cream, sazerac caramel sauce, huckleberry compote - This is their most popular dessert and was my wife's favorite. It tastes like all of the candy bars you craved as a child melted into one.
Roots and Rye Affogato with house spun fennel ice cream, almond anise biscotti - A much better alternative that just ordering coffee at the end of your meal. I really enjoyed the cappuccino-soaked ice cream and biscotti. The coffee was a little bit too bitter for my tastes, but a regular coffee drinker should love this.
Churchill Downs (bourbon whiskey, strawberry aquavit, lemon, green cardamom, fever tree ginger beer) - This is one of their signature cocktails and had a very unique flavor that is difficult for me to describe. It was like drinking a flower. This is light enough on the alcohol for either gender to enjoy. This was my wife's favorite.
Goldenrod (terroir gin, herbal liquor, lemon chrysanthemum honey, absinthe, rosemary) - The taste here was even more unique than the Churchill Downs. The combination of flavors actually made this taste kind of like sawdust, which pairs well with the decor. I couldn't resist drinking this since it was so different, but wouldn't recommend it to most people.
Barrel Aged Old Fashioned (bourbon whiskey, bitters, demerara sugar) - I'm a bit of an Old Fashioned snob since this is my favorite cocktail in general and this is the only cocktail that I can reproduce at home. R&R uses Buffalo Trace, which has a bit of a bite to it but I would expect nothing less from a traditional Old Fashioned. This is the cocktail that I would order first in the future.