Democrat and Chronicle online - Adam Wilcox
The joint: Root 31 Café and Eatery, Pittsford Plaza, 3349 Monroe Ave., Pittsford. (585) 383-5660. root31.com. Dine in or takeout.
The meal: Root Burger with chips and a pickle.
The check: $9.20.
The story: I knew very little about Root 31 when I walked in. It was recommended on Facebook, and then Mark Cupolo of Rocco chimed in that Charlie Saccardi, a terrific chef, had been a consultant on the place. Good enough for me.
Root 31 is a remake of the Colie's Café location in Pittsford Plaza. The focus is on fresh, local and sustainable. Thus, "root," and it's on Route 31. Get it? Root 31 stresses its sense of place by offering local ingredients such as eggs from Finger Lakes Farms and fruit from many local farms.
One of my Rules of Ordering is to look for the menu items that include the restaurant's name. I went with the Root Burger, a house-made veggie patty, although I could have tried the Root 31 Caesar, the Root 31 Daily Compost Pile ("no garbage on this plate!") or the R31 pizza.
The menu says the Root Burger made from mushroom, carrot, peppers, celery, radishes and black beans, but Joe the Manager told me that's a simplification. It actually has upward of 15 ingredients, including lentils, corn and panko. I thought it tasted a bit like my mom's cornbread dressing, and the corn and celery would account for that (celery is strong). It's a thick burger, and has flavor for days. This patty isn't just an excuse for toppings.
It came with Monterrey Jack, spring mix, a very good (but too thin) tomato slice and Sriracha remoulade (yum!). I asked Joe whether I could have had romaine instead of spring mix, and he said, "Sure!" That would be a better choice texturally. I would have liked the patty a little bit drier to hold up better while eating, but I quibble.
Chips were Mrs. Vickers kettle variety in a bag, and the pickle was good if not special. It was a solid meal for the money.
The options: Root 31 has a very clean, simple and spare look and feel. The artwork by Cordell Cordaro is a little classy, a little fun. The menu is fairly extensive. Breakfast options include pastries, bagels and croissants; yogurt and granola (with fresh fruit optional); and breakfast sandwiches, which seem a bit pricey because the cheese and meat are add-ons ($7 if you include both). Wraps are a major item, with breakfast versions featuring eggs with various things (chorizo, bacon and asparagus, pork and feta, or veggie). There is a plethora of lunch-oriented wraps, including a version of the Vietnamese bahn mi.
All hot sandwiches come with those chips and that pickle. Choose from grilled cheese, pit-smoked ham and Swiss or cheddar, Cuban-style roast pork, grilled salmon, Reuben and more. All come on a choice of various breads, brioche roll, ciabatta or pretzel sub.
Salads look intriguing, especially the beets & sweets, which features roasted beets, sweet potatoes, quinoa, feta, craisins and almonds in a lemon vinaigrette (that sounds really good, right?). Pizzas come in petite, personal and grande sizes, with the grande pizzas the only menu items that top 10 bucks. Root 31 is full of cheap eats.
Don't forget to ask ... about Root 31's commitment to the environment. The staff tries to compost or recycle everything — from the kitchen to the front of the house — committing to less than 5 percent of waste ending up in a landfill. You'll need to think about which bin to put your waste in after you eat, but hey, that's a good thing.
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