487 Cambridge Street
Update: This restaurant is now permanently closed 🙁
I am not a vegetarian by any means. I always choose a beef patty over a veggie patty, or a chicken Caesar salad over a Caesar salad. Back at home, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot into a vegetarian restaurant. But college is “the time to try new things,” and so I’ve started to venture into the world of meatless restaurants.
Root, a small restaurant in Allston, is about 2 miles from campus. Boasting an earthy atmosphere, the restaurant had wooden accents and handwritten menus. With reasonable prices in the $7-$10 range, the menu options featured unique twists on American classics. Jen tried the Root Burger, which was a black bean and quinoa burger with lettuce, tomato, and onions. “I usually would opt for a meat burger if I had the choice,” she said. “But the flavors came together so well that I didn’t notice the lack of meat.”
First, I tried the BBQ Portabella Sandwich, which had a portabella mushroom covered in BBQ sauce, topped with pickled carrots, red cabbage slaw, and onion rings. The sweetness of the BBQ sauce perfectly contrasted the sourness of the pickled carrots, and the crispiness of the onion rings balanced out the tenderness of the portabella.
I also tried the Sweet Potato Quesadilla, which was listed under “Small Bites,” but the four generous cuts could have been a full entrée. Now when I think about quesadillas, I usually picture melted cheese wrapped in a toasted tortilla. This quesadilla was slightly different. Instead of cheese, the dish featured a creamy, sweet and savory thyme sauce. It was smothered over thin, flavorful slices of sweet potato, and the pairing was phenomenal. The kale and sautéed onions were a nice touch, though I would have preferred fewer onions. Overall, however, my $7 were absolutely worth it.
Even after only trying two out of the many menu items at Root, I was blown away by the creative combinations of flavors. Any restaurant can throw together meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, and a bun, and give its customers a decent burger. A high school cafeteria could sprinkle cheese and chunks of chicken on a toasted tortilla and make a tasty quesadilla. It takes a special mind, however, to combine unexpected flavors into a dish, and make it taste even better than its “normal” counterpart. My advice? Save the $10 you’ll spend on a restaurant burger that you could make from a recipe on the internet. Go to Root and spend that money on the creativity that the restaurant has to offer. 9.5/10
A version of this article appeared in The Tech at: http://tech.mit.edu/V133/N64/root.html