UpRoot - Warren, NJ
A 'foodie friend of ours' (you know who you are ;) haha.), invited us to UpRoot on Tuesday. He had been before and had given a good review. A few other friends gave it a good review too, so we had pretty high expectations.
The space, while in a 'strip mall', is fantastic. That strip mall feel goes away as soon as you walk into the door (but take a right after you walk in the door, to find the actual door. The decor in the entrance is neat, but...don't go IN drunk. The bathrooms are a little strange, they reminded me of The Violet Hour in Chicago, no mens or womens, just a few single bathrooms. Awesome decor, but it was a little weird the paper towels were on the exact opposite wall of the sink...
We sat at the corner of the bar, and looked at the cocktail menu. It's a pretty good short list of real cocktails, covering the gammot. I think, like Nicholas in Middletown, that it's going to be hard to get your customers to change from apple-sugar-tini's and cosmos to Sazeracs and Rye cocktails, but kudos for trying, and it's surely a plus for my wife and I.
We saw a Sazerac on the bar menu, which seems to be the quintessential classic cocktail now, and happens to be our favorite cocktail. We've also had the cocktail made for us about 1500 times in 1500 different ways (from Dale DeGroff even). We kinda use it to judge a bar/bartender. Our very nice, and very ambitious bartender with the hip faux-hawk (which I'm sure is a MILF magnet come Thursday night at that place), shook our Sazeracs. eek. A quick prodding and poking, and he realized his mistake and made another that was good. He made a good Manhattan as well.
We had the chickpea and garlic confit (read: hummus) with tortilla chips for a bar snack, it was good.
So far so good...the decor of the place and the bar area is pretty neat. Big area bar, with a lounge area in front of it.
We moved to a table when our friend arrived and got to the ordering. We ordered A LOT of food, and the Sommelier/Maitre'd, we trusted to pick out some good wines.
To start we ordered (quite) a few plates:
Seared scallop with wild boar belly
Salmon Belly with citrus
Lamb stuffed Quail
Cocoa crusted seared tuna
We all (that is, the 3 of us gluttons) each tried everything.
We had an amuse of scallop that was tasty.
The chef, Anthony Bucco, definitely has a strength for cooking seafood. Honestly, I'm not a seafood eater. I don't really enjoy shrimp, lobster, etc. I think I've ordered by choice, a seafood dish on a menu, maybe 5 times in my life, but I can say that the seafood dishes were outstanding and better than the others, in my opinion. The seared scallop dish, was the best dish of the night for all of us. The salmon belly, which I actually DISLIKE salmon, was sous-vided perfect and was second best dish for me. The wine that the Sommelier paired the first course with, 'a Chenin Blanc from the Anjou appelation of the Loire Valley', was perfect and stood up to everything.
For mains, we had:
Red Snapper (can't remember the rest of the dish
)Prosciutto wrapped Cod
Roasted and Confit duck
Again, the seafood was the winner as Laurie LOVED the wrapped cod dish. She wasn't even sure exactly all the components of he dish, but she's still talking about it. My duck was good, and prepared well, but not nearly as good as the other two dishes. Our main was paired with a Burgundy, a Pinot Noir from Gevrey Chambertain Burgundy, that went fantastic too. Our new years resolution is to learn more about wine, as we drink so damn much of it. Our friend is a wine guy, but we let the Sommelier choose the pairings and they were fantastic. With Sommeliers like that, I wish everyone was that good, then I could scrap that resolution...he was quite knowledgeable, and our wines were reasonably priced. Kudos on that end, as it's one less thing I need to think about when I order. The wine list was extensive and seemed to have some really neat/different wines on it.
Service was great, and non-intrusive in clearing the plates. Everything came out at a good time, spaced perfectly. The plating was very nice. If I had to gripe about one thing, it would be the pretty microscopic 3 dots of garnished sauce on some plates.
Icecream and sorbet tasting
Frozen pineapple souffle
Carrot cake twinkie.
The carrot cake twinkie won out. Very awesome. The pineapple
All in all, shit...I may be a seafood eater now. Aside from the screw up with the cocktail, and a few dots on a plate which I had to dig deep to gripe about, this place was pretty awesome. We heard some questionable 'lounge' type music going on towards the end of the night, but were assured it was simply an experiment and would never be played again. ever......ever....
I'm not sure what the check came out to actually, Ill have to check, it was comparable to any other fine dining place, but well worth it.
They certainly seem to 'know' fine dining, rather than just a few random people who want to have a fine dining restaurant. [b]Highly recommended.[/b]
I know it's kinda passe to 'compare' restaurants/chefs, etc...in reviews, but screw it, I'm not a reviewer, I'm just a dude who loves to eat.....this place's atmosphere reminded me of Elements in Princeton but with fantastic food, Sommelier, and service, that was of Nicholas caliber.
I've been having some pretty good dining experiences as of late, 2010 looks like it's going to be a good year.
9 Mt. Bethel Road, Warren, NJ 07059