487 Cambridge St., Allston
Monday – Thursday
11 a.m. – 10 p.m.,
11 a.m. – 11 p.m.,
Saturday – Sunday
9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
I am not a vegetarian by any means. I always go for a beef patty over a veggie patty, or a chicken Caesar salad over a regular Caesar salad. Back at home, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot into a vegetarian restaurant. But, so I’ve been told, college is “the time to try new things,” and so I’ve started to venture into the world of meatless restaurants.
Root, a small restaurant in Allston, is about 2 miles from campus. It is not too hard to find — cross the river, head west down Commonwealth, and make a slight right turn at Cambridge St. By T, take the B Green Line to the Harvard Ave. stop. Either way, Root is absolutely worth the trip.
Boasting an earthy atmosphere from floor to ceiling, the restaurant has wooden accents and handwritten menus. Seating is limited, however, with enough tables for approximately 20 diners at a time. Thankfully, the prices are extremely reasonable in the $7–$10 range, and the menu features unique twists on American classics. According to our server, the most popular dish is the Root Burger, which is a black bean and quinoa burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a bun. There are also several intriguing beverage options, such as the Root Punch juice, made up of beet, sweet potato, and apple.
First, I tried the BBQ Portobello Sandwich, which had a portobello mushroom covered in BBQ sauce, topped with pickled carrots, red cabbage slaw, and onion rings. The sweetness of the BBQ sauce perfectly contrasted the sourness of the pickled carrots, and the crispiness of the onion rings balanced out the tenderness of the portobello. The bun was toasted well with a fresh, fluffy texture.
I also tried the Sweet Potato Quesadilla, which is listed under “Small Bites,” but the four generous cuts could be a full entrée. Now, when I think about quesadillas, I usually picture melted cheese wrapped in a toasted tortilla. This quesadilla was slightly different. Instead of cheese, the dish featured a creamy, sweet and savory thyme sauce. It was smothered over thin, flavorful slices of sweet potato, and the pairing was phenomenal. The kale and sautéed onions were a nice touch, though I would have preferred fewer onions. Overall, however, my $7 were well spent.
Even after trying only two of the many menu items at Root, I was blown away by the creative combinations of flavors. Any restaurant can throw together meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, and a bun, and give its customers a decent burger. A high school cafeteria could sprinkle cheese and chunks of chicken on a toasted tortilla and make a tasty quesadilla. It takes a special mind, however, to combine unexpected flavors into a dish, and make it taste even better than its “normal” counterpart. My advice? Save the $10 you’ll spend on a restaurant burger that you could make from a recipe on the Internet. Go to Root and spend that money on the creativity that this restaurant has to offer.