I have a secret manner by which I sometimes grade a restaurant and one of these is the mid-week-busy quotient. I have another manner, mentioned in past reviews, and it is the quality of bread offered in the infamous basket. For example, Market Table in Hanover spoils you with their moist, salty focaccia, setting the tone for the rest of the menu selections. Click here
There is now a new spot in Royalton which fulfills both gauges.
Out we went on a mid-week night to try Wild Roots which is beautifully poised on route 14 just off Interstate 89. The building has had a couple of previous owners who did not stay too long...and after tonight's test, we certainly hope for a lasting legacy. As a matter of fact, we had a reservation for six pm and as our evening began, we watched table after table, after couple after group arrive and be seated. And, it was a Wednesday night!
Josh Walker and Jayne Sullycole are the husband and wife team behind this new venture. Even though they met out west they have returned to Jayne's native green mountain state and taken over that lovely red brick building, known so long as the Fox Stand Inn. Together with their executive chef, Peter Varkonyi, the restaurant's name conjures new and exciting adventures. New Mexico, Colorado, California, New York, D.C., even Chef Varkonyi's time at the Home Hill Inn in our nook of the upper valley, have all steered various culinary twists and turns to now set down a few new wild roots and spoil us, the fortunate diners.
Some of you may know I have long bemoaned the availability of more superlative little eateries without having to drive at least three quarters of an hour. Citizens of Royalton, Bethel, Barnard, Pomfret, and Sharon, Strafford, Tunbridge, and White River Junction, even Randolph, now have a unique inn-style bistro as an option for a delicious night out. It is simple to reach from exit 3 off I 89 or the scenic meander of the White River's route 14.
The restaurant has two rooms, unique in their wall color; we were seated in the gentle, mossy green room with huge windows through which magical clouds flowed back and forth commemorating the beginning of summer. Our friendly waitress greeted us and gave us a little history of the establishment, noting portions were on the slightly larger side and that many of the starters were for sharing. We chose a medley of grilled vegetables which came with two vinaigrettes for dipping. The presentation resembled a crown of flowers with the asparagus, radish roots, snap peas, cucumber and garlic scapes hidden within - the whole topped with tiny violas. I have mentioned before that my husband is not an adoring fan of vegetables; however, he tucked in just as avidly as any vegetarian. We then went for a few oysters and chose a local brew and a glass of Argentine Santa Julia Torrontes. Jayne has passed her level I and level II Sommelier certifications. In fact, when I first looked at the menu online, what stood out was the wine list and distinctive selections. Needless to say, the basket with toasted home-made wheat sourdough disappeared quickly with the fresh butter.
When the main courses arrived, the chicken across from me served in a sleek white half bowl was tantalizing in its dark sugary glaze with crispy skin. Let me return to the menu: that's a 'fat rooster farm chicken with fried bread, capers and radishes'. I chose the cassoulet beans with foraged morels, asparagus and cheddar cheese - served in my own half bowl and a luxurious choice it was. Our hostess had emphasized that the menu changes seasonally but perhaps even more often what with summer's bounty week by week. From perusing the menu two weeks before going, the selections had already switched this particular summer night. Many of our favourite local farm produce is featured such as Root 5 Farm and Edgewater, for starters. For avid meat lovers, imagine a 42 ounce porterhouse steak with horseradish aioli, purple potatoes, basil verde and veal demi glace! Mind you, it was in the 'sharing' lane.
Feeling fully satiated at this point, we looked forward to the dessert selections and chose an 'Indian pudding with honey and home-made ice cream'. After all, there's always room for a little sweetness. Now that was the only description on the dessert list and it intrigued us. When it arrived in its simple, pretty little bowl, we spotted a sort of pumpkin colored mousse in the bottom and a rectangular slather of the ice cream on top all drizzled with honey. When we bit in, our sensory perceptions had us immediately lock in delighted stares and stop breathing as we reveled in the flavours. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie at all yet this was somehow an extremely elegant offshoot of this overly available late fall dessert. The ice cream was literally rich and gently iced thick cream as light as cotton candy used to be. The pudding is a recipe that dates back to the seventeenth century. It was a revelation that seemed to fit perfectly with the end of a gorgeous summer meal.
Josh and Jayne have now just begun a Sunday brunch from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Dinners are Wednesday through Sunday starting at 5:00pm. There is ample parking including a lot across the street. Click here
for more details and the full menus...for now...
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