Monday, April 25, 2011

Root Down

My husband and I first visited Root Down in the Highlands for dinner several months ago, and we loved it. Last night, we went back for seconds. 

Root Down is located on a fairly quiet, mostly residential street in the Highlands. Like Lola or Duo down the street, it is trendy and urban and filled with nicely dressed people. The interior is basically simple and modern, but decorated with vintage photos that had no apparent ties to the restaurant itself.

Root Down's philosophy centers around the increasingly popular "field to fork" concept, using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. I imagine that's not the easiest way to go in Denver, but their menu credits numerous local suppliers. They also manage to cater to a very wide spectrum of dietary needs. The menu contains meat and seafood options alongside vegetarian and vegan dishes. Nearly everything can be prepared gluten-free, and they offer a raw dinner menu once a month. My husband and I don't have much of an "omnivore's dilemma" apparently; we stuck with mostly meat dishes.

The menu at Root Down is geared toward small plates that can be shared among diners. Even the "main course" dishes come in smaller, tapas-sized portions. Our waitress was attentive and extremely familiar with the details of the menu, and she offered several recommendations. After some heated decision-making, we settled on the Carrot & Thai Red Curry Soup, the "Devils on Horseback", the Buffalo Sliders and the Beef Tender.

The soup arrived first, it was a surprisingly large portion with a bright yellow-orange color. And it was delicious. The soup contains a "pear and apple chutney" which was actually blended into the soup; the sweet flavor of the fruit perfectly contrasted the spiciness of the curry. The broth was rich and creamy, making the soup a very filling starter.

Carrot and Thai Red Curry Soup

Next up was the Devils on Horseback; from the menu: "Date & Goat Cheese stuffed Peppadews, wrapped in Serrano Ham, Smoked Paprika-Sherry Gastrique". The bite-size pieces were tiny but extremely rich and flavorful. The Peppadew peppers were both sweet and spicy, nicely balanced by richness of the ham and goat cheese.

Devils on Horseback

Also delicious - but not quite as memorable as the first two courses - were the Buffalo Sliders and the Beef Tender (the latter was a half order of an entree portion). The sliders were pleasantly juicy for buffalo meat and flavored by array of condiments that included aged cheddar, caramelized onions, tomato chutney, and pickles.

Buffalo Sliders

We finished  the meal with the Seasonal Fruit Crumble, the seasonal fruit in late-April being apple (really?). It wasn't obvious from the menu, but apparently this was a vegan dessert. It was light and only mildly sweet, containing a nutty topping as the "crumble". A scoop of lemon sorbet on top brought out the tartness of the apples. The dessert was satisfying but a little lacking in flavor.

Apple Crumble

Overall, an excellent meal, but maybe just a little too much food. Our bill came to $68 for all the dishes described above plus a beer for each of us.  
I do have one very loud complaint, however, before I wrap up. Root Down seats maybe 80 people at full capacity. Get this: there is only one women's restroom for the whole restaurant. I was floored when I discovered this. Prepare to wait in line, ladies. And wait, and wait, and wait. 

I'll be back in a heartbeat, but I hope they can get the "facilities" upgraded!

Casual Dining

(9 of 10)

Pros: Amazing food, fresh ingredients, unique preparations, great service
Cons: Extent of vegan/vegetarian options comes at expense of fewer meat and seafood dishes. Waiting forever for the bathroom.


Root Down on Urbanspoon


  1. I found your review when doing a search for Root Down recipes. I have a food blog that used to focus on cooking and Brooklyn restaurants, but since relocating to Denver I've switched my focus..and I was trying to get my hands on their recipe for Sweet Potato Falafel with Lemon Yogurt and Chili Oil. It was fantastic. I found a Food & Wine soup that reminded me of the Carrot and Red Thai Curry-- but it's not quite the same because Root Down's Chutney isn't in it. If you get that falafel recipe, please send it my way! That place is fantastic!

  2. Hi Batya, thank you for your post and welcome to Denver!

    I'm afraid I'm not much help on the recipe request. I never cook at all, so recipes aren't really my strong point. You may want to try contacting Root Down directly.

  3. The food all looks so good. I need to go there again soon! I have been there for brunch and a 5280 was too dark to take pictures at that time though. I think I need to hit up their happy hour! :)