With news of a revamped brunch menu, this week's venture took us to Root Down, initially on behalf of my roommate -- who recently received a gluten allergy diagnosis. She was looking forward to a menu accommodating of dietary restrictions -- with gluten-free and vegan options prominently noted -- and I was looking forward to tasting my way through new options from Root Down's stellar kitchen.
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Open for weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 pm, Root Down is one of the hottest tables in town. It was already slammed when we arrived for our 10:30 reservation, but it's a happy kind of buzz, an electric atmosphere perfect for sharing good news or catching up with an old friend. Don't try to go without a reservation, though, especially if you want to sit on one of the two large patios. And make sure you get there early enough to find parking.
Built from a 1950s gas station, Root Down has a gritty, industrial feel that's all too familiar these days. With fresh herbs and vegetables being harvested from the rooftop garden and an adjoining plot, the kitchen takes the farm-to-table concept seriously. It's LoHi location attracts flocks of young trendsetters based on location alone, but despite an initial pretentious air, the service manages to be pleasant and attentive, with staff that encourage lingering as long as you'd like. Happy to oblige, we wasted away a good portion of the day over house-made chai, with a distinct and addictive nutty clove flavor despite a lack of caffeine.
Root Down's menu includes breakfast cocktails and Novo coffee options, making for a tough decision to maintain sobriety or give in to temptation. Two bottomless mimosa options -- the classic for $13 or tart blood orange for $15, Bloody Marys from house-made mix, and Moscow mules with Root Down's own ginger beer proved to be too much to resist. Covering most of the choices, we ordered a blood orange mimosa, an order of bottomless classic mimosas, a cappuccino, and a fresh-squeezed, pulpy OJ between the four of us. With every detail meticulously considered, Root Down even offers a unique blend of specialty sweeteners -- organic coconut sugar, for example. Last call for brunch drinks is 3:15 p.m., so plan accordingly.
Continue reading for a full account of bruch at Root Down...
Every plate rises above the standard "OMFG!" foodie exclamations, due in part to innovative sauces that take already creative flavor profiles to the next level. We started out with a banana-bread French toast appetizer covered with an amazing blend of chicory crème fraiche, cacao nibs and a light citrus syrup. Perfectly gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside from a tempura-style crust and and a scattering of peanuts, it was served with a simple fruit salad spiced up with chili and paprika to cut the sweetness.
For the main course, I went with the fried chicken and goat-cheese biscuits featuring a juicy, thinly breaded breast topped with a fried egg and red chili-mushroom sauce. I'd like to slather that thick, magically creamy sauce on everything from burritos to pasta. I've also found my new favorite biscuit king in town: the secret to Root Down's flaky and delicious treats is the addition of scallions and rosemary -- I could easily have eaten five of them.
Roomie had the Root Down Benedict, a healthy take on a classic breakfast favorite. Served on a dense quinoa patty attempting to emulate an English muffin (with debatable success), soft poached eggs were topped with Iberico cheese and a sun-dried tomato hollandaise. She also chose to add a generous portion of perfectly cooked and tender bistro tenderloin as her protein.
Jeff had the pulled-pork omelette, topped with Welsh cheddar and another crazy sauce mixture of charred scallions, lime sour cream and pickled habaneros. The eggs were so fluffy as to be almost porous, making the omelette my second favorite dish. Sarah's breakfast burrito followed suit, coated in a sweet mole and stuffed with scrambled eggs, black beans, chorizo, avocado and mozzarella (instead of a more traditional Mexican cheese). It was also deceivingly filling for being the smallest of the entrees.
My dish was the only one of the four that did not come with a side of home fries; I was a little jealous,but my friends let me share the overwhelming favorite. Made of three different root vegetables, Peruvian, rooster and sweet potatoes, the rainbow of purple, orange and yellow made for a colorful accoutrement with the perfect amount of texture and salt.
Insisting on dessert (the same options as on the dinner menu), my friends were persuaded to get the banana crème brulee pie, which is less a pie and more like a childhood fantasy on a plate. Spooning through an airy topping of whipped sour cream and bananas, getting to the "crust" (not a crust at all but, but a melty chocolate-peanut butter blend) was the name of the game, navigating between the crunch of the beer nuts and slices of caramelized bananas.
In addition to offering options for plant-based and gluten-sensitive eaters, Root Down is also more than willing to offer substitutions on any of their mouthwatering plates, so you can customize in the unlikely event that you don't see something that immediately appeals to you.
Root Down sets the bar for exactly what you want in a weekend brunch spot -- free-flowing cocktails, quality people watching and innovative dishes with elevated flavor combinations that would be difficult to make at home, much less even dream up, on a lazy weekend morning.
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Brunch: it's a time-honored tradition, a mingling of friends over bottomless mimosas for chatting and gluttonous gorging on pancake stacks and egg creations. If your typical Sunday morning debate goes back and forth between heading to the reliable greasy spoon or someplace new and trendy, indecision could have you growing roots in the couch. Meanwhile, wait times at Denver favorites won't get any shorter. So that's where Out to Brunch comes in: In this weekly feature, Lauren Monitz will explore new places and revisit the old faithfuls to help you decide where to go on your next brunch adventure.