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Root 246 - a restaurant by Bradley OgdenA restaurant called Root 246 opened about a year ago in Solvang.  This caused quite a stir because the chef is Bradley Odgen (yes, *that* Bradley Odgen).  Needless to say, touristy Solvang, most notable for its kitschy Danish architecture,  doesn’t have any other restaurants featuring award-winning, celebrity chefs like Odgen.    Jason and I have eaten on the outdoor patio in the summertime.  This time, in light of the fact that it is February (and cold), we opted to sit in the dining room.

Menu at Root 246 a Bradley Ogden restaurant

Menu at Root 246

Odgen’s cooking style in three words is simply “farm to table”.  Naturally, the menu changes often – depending on what is in season.    Jason and I wanted to try many things on the menu so we decided to order a number of different appetizers in lieu of entrees.

Amuse Bouche at Root 246

Amuse-bouche of steelhead trout, shitake and a ginger soy emulsion

Shortly after ordering we received a delicious and beautiful amuse-bouche of steelhead trout and shitake mushroom dressed with a ginger soy emulsion.   I love these unexpected, tiny treats from the kitchen.

We ordered the “Artisan Cheese Plate” which came with thin slices of warm, toasted raisin bread, almonds, local honey and house made blood orange balsamic jelly (which was so fantastic I wanted to take some home).   All the cheeses sounded

Artisan cheese plate with house made blood orange balsamic jelly and local honey

Artisan cheese plate with house made blood orange balsamic jelly and local honey

so wonderful, we couldn’t pick just one.   We ordered the cave aged Marisa from La Valle, Wisconsin.  This sheep milk cheese is aged for six months in a cave.  It was earthy and rich and really tasty.  We also had the Ascutney Mountain cheese from Hartland, Vermont.   It is made from raw milk and is aged for no fewer than eight months.  It is firm, buttery and nutty – similar to a European alpine cheese.  Lastly, we chose a French cheese, called Comte Reserve des Granges from (yes, you guessed it) Franche-Comte, France.   Made from cow’s milk, this is a nutty and buttery cheese that melts in your mouth.  Cheeses like this one are a perfect alternative to dessert (not that we’ll be skipping dessert).

warm "Bautista Farms" spinach salad, La Quercia proscuitto, quail egg and Minus 8 vinaigrette

Warm "Bautista Farms" spinach salad, La Quercia proscuitto, quail egg and Minus 8 vinaigrette

Next up was the warm “Bautista Farms” spinach salad, La Quercia proscuitto, quail egg and Minus 8 vinaigrette.  The spinach was thicker and more crisp than any I’ve had before, rather more like swiss chard than spinach.   Bautista Farms is located in nearby Arroyo Grande so the spinach is super-fresh.

Sliders with Atomic Horseradish

Beef sliders with "atomic" horseradish

After the salad, we tucked into the beef sliders with atomic horseradish and fries with house made ketchup.  These were off the bar menu which offers more casual fare than the dining room menu.  The sliders were great except I really had my heart set on some spicy horseradish – after all, the menu said “atomic”.  In reality, the kick from the horseradish was “sub-atomic”.   With that said, it complemented the flavor of the beef and didn’t overpower the dish – which is probably what the chef planned.   The fries, served in a paper cone (a fun little nod to street food fare)  were warm and crisp and didn’t last on the plate very long.   The sliders tasted especially good with Barrel 27‘s 2006 “Right Hand Man” Syrah.   Barrel 27 is one of my favorites from Paso Robles.   Winemakers McPrice Myers and Russel From are really making some fabulous wine up there.

Miso glazed pork belly with crisp pork and mushroom "spring roll" and soy caramel

Miso glazed pork belly with crisp pork and mushroom "spring roll" and soy caramel

We also ordered the miso glazed pork belly with crisp pork and mushroom “spring roll” and soy caramel!  This was decadent – the flavors all melded together as the tender pork belly melted in my mouth.  Nom, nom, indeed!

Obviously, Jason and I were enjoying our food, what I haven’t mentioned yet is great waitstaff.  Our waiters (there were about 4 of them making sure we had enough bread, food, wine and water) were very attentive.  When Jason asked about a particular wine, the waiter offered to bring him a taste.  I really wish more restaurants would do this.  It is a real drag to order an unfamiliar wine (and too often the waiter cannot tell you anything about it) only to find that it isn’t something you like, in the slightest.  Thankfully the Root 246 staff is wine-centric enough to a) really know the wine list and b) offer a taste of a wine to a curious imbiber.  Kudos!

After all this delicious (and beautifully presented) food, we thought it best to order dessert, actually desserts.  As usual we couldn’t pick just one.  Jason ordered the butterscotch pudding “taster” with coffee-chocolate fudge cookie.  Both the pudding and the cookie were really wonderful – and the size of the dessert is perfect for one person to have a few bites of sweetness at the end a meal.  I ordered the 246 donut “puffs”, served with little cups of  hot fudge, Tahitian vanilla bean custard and apple compote.  I’d pictured donut holes in my head when I ordered this, so I was very surprised to get sticks.   The sticks are meant for dunking into any of the little cups.  It was a fun and tasty riff on donuts.

Organized shelves of food

Every shelf shows the date that the fruit arrived

One of our wonderful waiters asked us if we wanted a tour of the kitchen.   I cannot imagine why he asked me this question…maybe it was the fact that I kept photographing the plates of food?  hmmmm… Of course we took him up on his offer!   I learned that Root 246 doesn’t have a freezer – everything is fresh.  The produce is used within two days from when it is delivered.  Immediately upon delivery, all the fruit and herbs (organic and as local as possible) are washed and then stored on dated trays or in see-through bins.   Root 246 uses local, organic foods whenever possible.  You can taste the quality and the freshness – just take one bite of the spinach salad!   But don’t take my word for it – go check it out yourself.  And if you like to watch FoodTV, be sure to request the table *in* the kitchen!   It is tough to get that table on Saturdays, so call a few weeks ahead to make your reservation.

Here are a couple more photos we took on our tour:

Jason and Anne - interlopers in the Root 246 kitchen

Chef de cuisine Church

Chef de Cuisine Church in his element

chef footwear

Gotta dig the Converse! No Crocs here.

Pork belly

Pork belly - it's not just for breakfast anymore!

Spices in the Root 246 kitchen

Spices in the Root 246 kitchen

How can you screw up auto-focus? Sigh. Jason, Bradley Ogden, Anne

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