Don’t let the incredibly bland name fool you. Local Roots is quite the classy affair for those with a little more green to throw around.
The restaurant is nestled along a quaint city street in Roanoke next to the Grandin Theatre, giving it some small town charm. However, the eatery’s decor is far from quaint. A large glass door leads customers into a lavish setting that is dimly lit, but not too dark, to set the proper mood.
Beautiful wooden tables dot the spacious room, with a few booths toward the back. The waiter offered my friend and I multiple table options, and we decided on one that looked rather unique compared to the others. The table looked like the cross-section of a tree, still boasting all the knots and grooves. Aside from a few times when I thought my water glass might topple over an uneven section of the table, it was a very pleasant dining experience.
The meal began with prompt attention from the waiter, who eagerly rattled off a lengthy description of the day’s specials. However, I decided to keep it simple and order a chicken dish off the regular menu.
The menu itself was a bit surprising. Instead of some fancy, leather-bound parchment, it was simply a single printed page. While the paper still looked fairly nice, it didn’t seem to jive with the prices it listed. My selection was a whopping $25, and it was not the most expensive item on the menu.
While waiting for our meals, a plate of freshly baked bread was delivered. The flavor was rich and the garlic herb butter spread was incredible. However, there were only four rather small pieces of bread for a table of two. The bread was such a tease — whetting my appetite but still leaving me starving. I rationalized this was for the best, so I could eat more of my main course.
Not too long after we had finished the bread, our meals arrived. The service was actually quicker than I had expected. In my experience, many fancy restaurants are slow, but Local Roots definitely excelled in timeliness, and the waiter was very attentive without being pushy.
Still, the stellar service could not compensate for my initial reaction when dinner was served. My dish was certainly aesthetically pleasing, but the portion just seemed so meager, especially in comparison to the large plate it was situated on.
The amount of chicken seemed tiny and proved to be even smaller once I cut it off the bone. The whipped mashed potatoes offered only a few large mouthfuls, and there was an inadequate amount of gravy. Proportionally, the broccoli was actually the greatest asset on the plate.
While the amount of food may have been disappointing, the taste was not.
The chicken was tender and juicy, and there were no chewy parts whatsoever. The potatoes were rich and creamy but still not too heavy. The gravy tasted like a grandmother’s recipe handed down for generations.
While vegetables are often just brushed aside, the broccoli was actually the best part. The stalks had soaked up all of the other flavors on the plate, leaving them with a succulent crunch I never knew broccoli could have. I have never been a fan of veggies, but the broccoli completely changed my perspective.
The food was phenomenal; I just wish there had been more of it given the expense. The relatively steep prices did not shock me since the restaurant tries to buy all food locally and devoid of pesticides, hormones and the like. Still, the price and quantity of food did not match.
Perhaps I was disappointed because we live in a society that has come to expect out-of-control portions for a great price. While The Cheesecake Factory’s servings are going overboard, I would have appreciated a bit more on my plate. In the end, I walked away satisfied but still a bit hungry.
The restaurant would be great for a date, family function, prom, rehearsal dinner or some other special occasion. The clientele appeared to be in the older age bracket and most were dressed very nicely, though this should not deter younger diners.
Just be prepared to lighten your wallet and stop to get more food on your way home.