After finishing finals this past semester I made a game time decision to pack my bags, (including knives) and go to the restaurant capital of the world – New York City. Hungry for adventure, real world experience and really good food, I moved in with Chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth to help them open Root & Bone, their soon-to-be hotspot restaurant in the East Village.
Root & Bone serves up the best Southern fare north of the Mason Dixon Line. I might be biased, but everyone from Eater to Zagat seems to be equally excited about this place. Both Saveur and Food and Wine Magazines instagrammed their praise for the fried chicken from the opening parties. Jeff and Janine have helmed kitchens in James Beard nominated restaurants and are are both Top Chef alums. The food at Root & Bone is certainly evidence of their culinary chops.
The menu at Root & Bone consists of what I’d call refined comfort food with dishes from braised short rib meatloaf to lighter, savory root salads to the signature lemon fried chicken. The bar program focuses on dark spirits, such as whiskey and bourbon, and is on point with cocktails like the filthy Manhattan. The desserts by Pastry Chef Crystal Cullison are also to die for. The design of the restaurant is truly hand-crafted and the atmosphere is bright, beautiful and as if you walked in to someone’s home.
Incredible places like Root & Bone don’t just pop up in Alphabet City overnight. Opening a restaurant calls for equal parts passion and patience. Ever picked up a copy of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential? (I did after Jeff explained that its a highly influential book by Anthony Bourdain, not a passé TV show starring Bradley Cooper) and I can now confidently tell you that, between my experience here and a quick stint as a line cook in Miami, much of Bourdain’s book holds true. You have to fall somewhere on the spectrum from quirky to certifiably insane to want to work in, let alone open, a restaurant.
I’ve also come to learn that working in a restaurant means you need to be a jack of all trades. As an intern of sorts I was lucky enough to get to do everything. From food cost analysis, to social media, running errands, doing dishes, helping develop the wine list, creating staff training power points, photography, to cooking along side the chefs; it was the hardest I think I’ve ever worked (save prelim season at Cornell), but also the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. Working 12-14 hour days is taxing, but when you’re surrounded by an amazing team it makes it all worthwhile. I am now well versed in all the ways to cook a carrot, how to handle the likes of Con-Edison, and by the end of my time in the city I wasn’t just a member of an opening team but a part of a family.
Root & Bone is located at 200 East 3rd St. between Avenue A and Avenue B in the East Village of NYC. Check out the menus here!