Disclaimer: This is only one visit. Yet, every visit makes an impression.
I had high expectations for Roots given some of what I've read here and elsewhere. I travel to Waukesha on business three times a year, and have struck out finding decent restaurants around Waukesha, Pewaukee, Hartland, Delafield, etc. And, overall, I can't believe the prices that are charged. Waaaay more places in MSP with similarly-styled fare that is better prepared and not as pricey. Before the objections start, I've not been to Sanford, and I don't know that my non-profit employer would be too keen on seeing it on my expense account. I have been to Cafe Coquette, however. Poor food and worse service.
So I looked forward to Roots. A chef-driven, foodie type of place. Ivisited on a Tuesday evening. The dining room was one-third full. I didn't venture to The Cellar, but there was noise coming from there. The host asked if I wanted to be seated in the dining room or cellar. I asked what the difference was. Well, Happy Hour was still going on in the cellar for 20 more minutes. Didn't expect to hear that. But what kept me upstairs was that smoking was permitted in the cellar.
Now, I believe Milwuakee restaurants are going smoke-free February 2, but a chef-driven, fussy foodie place allowing smoking??? Even seated upstairs far from the open stairway, I could detect the smoke.
I"ll get to the highlight first. I found a wine on the list whose price was the same price one would find in a retail shop. I think someone made a mistake. No markup. I asked if that was indeed the correct price. It was. Then I asked if Wisconsin laws permit me to take the unfinished wine home with me. They do. So I ordered the bottle.
Bar snacks (this is Wisconsin) were deliever to my table. Deep-fried garbanzo beans which were okay and jerk-butter popcorn which had no discernable jerk flavor.
I ordered the appetizer special. Grape and pine nut focaccia bread served alongside a salad of fresh greens and locally-produced feta. Flavors were good. Feta was plentiful. More greens and less feta would've been a better balance.
I also orderd the entree special. Roasted monkfish on a bed of caulifllower rice pilaf surround by beet hummus. Fish was on the overcooked side, but not to the point of needing to send it back. Pilaf was on the dry side. The hummus was a light pink, so the beets added color but no discernable flavor.
I also decided to try a dessert, and ordered the sorbet trio: grapefruit cucumber, avacado udze, and pear thyme. Good thing a fork was provided along with a spoon since a fork was need to penetrate to molded portions. They were a bit on the hard and crystalline side.
Maybe it was the Tuesday night. Maybe it was an off night. I'm willing to give the place another shot. It's better than what I've found so far.