Food Review: Dinner at The Root

The Root has always been one of my favorite lunch spots. Their banh mi and burger are my go-to’s. It took way too long for me to finally get there to try their dinner options, but I finally made it with 5 other friends…well, Drew is more than a friend.   It had its ups and downs, and I’m going to be blatantly honest in this review. Here goes:


Negroni, $6.00
Description: Rocktown gin, Cappelletti, Dolin sweet, lemon twist

We all started with a drink. The drink menu is vast, with great descriptions of each drink and very well priced.  The Negroni I got was strong (no complaints!), but very tasty. I would definitely get this again.

Honey Hard Ginger Lemonade, $7.00
Description: Rocktown bourbon whiskey, fresh ginger and lemon juices, local honey, lemon twist

Drew got the Honey Hard Ginger Lemonade, which was also strong, but he loved it. I, personally, can’t get into whiskey cocktails, but the other flavors were very nice.


The menu has something for everyone: meat-lovers, vegans, whomever. And as fancy as some of the descriptions sound, it was surprisingly fairly-priced.


Veggie Cracklins, $4.00

Our table started with the “Seasonal Veggie Cracklins”, which I would have never ordered on my own, but thanks to my vegetarian friend, I got to try these. They were delicious and so unique! They looked just like pork rinds, but tasted nothing of the sort. Instead, they were spicy, with a little sweetness from the carrot they were made of. I have NO IDEA how they make these, nor can I find a similar recipe online, so they are pretty ingenius.

Purple Hull Pea Hummus w/ Crostini, $5.00

We also ordered this hummus for the table. It was good, but nothing crazy delicious. The crostini was nice and crisp, but there was no additional flavor added. I would have loved a little garlic oil or something on them to give a little extra.

Pork Carnitas, $16.00
Description: Slow braised Rabbit Ridge Farms pork shoulder (Bee Branch) with War Eagle Mill grit cake, homemade tortilla slaw, herb mayo

I ordered the carnitas, and this dish was my personal favorite. Each bite of the pork was perfect: no fatty pieces, very tender with crunchy edges. The herb mayo sauce it was placed on was delicious! The grit cake was a great, smoky addition. The slaw needed salt, but gave a bright balance to the dish. Getting a bite with all four components was very tasty.

Spicy Fried Chicken, $14.00
Description: Delicious Berbere spice glaze, homemade mac & cheese, house fermented sweet pickles

One of our friends said she has only ordered this spicy fried chicken for dinner and can’t seem to order anything else because it is perfect. So, Drew opted for this one,  but with the spicy sauce on the side rather than coating the chicken. Also, he requested the braised greens instead of the mac n’ cheese. Picky much? Ha.

The pickles were delicious. The chicken was nice because it was boneless, but still obviously thigh meat and very juicy. While the skin was crispy, there was just no flavor from the chicken. Then, the spicy sauce was just….spicy. The only flavor we got from this was heat. So, if you like “Nashville hot chicken”, you’ll love this. Personally, for $14 and 3 small pieces of chicken with one side, I don’t think it is worth it.

The braised greens. They were terrible. There seemed to be no seasoning, just bitter greens. Drew didn’t even finish them. He definitely should have opted for the fries.


For the rest of the dishes, these were our friends’ and we did not try them, but here are pics and some of their comments:

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings, $13.00
Description: Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative chicken, black pepper and buttermilk dumplings, served with a side salad


Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes, $13.00
Description: Homemade meatloaf with Simon Farms beef (Conway) and served with a locally sourced side salad

Cristianna said this was very spicy, perhaps because of the curry ketchup? It was also a little dry, due to them slicing it and griddling each slice.
The mashed potatoes were also bland and needed some salt.

The meatloaf probably is the best bang for your buck. For only $13, this plate was the largest. The rest of us left full, but not stuffed (though no leftovers)- which is perfect.



I NEVER complain about service. I understand waiting tables is a grueling job. However, this dinner was nearly ruined by our waitress, so I have to mention it.
From the second she came to our table, our waitress clearly did not want to be there. Not one smile, not one pleasantry. No, she did not give her name, nor would I give it if I knew it.  She answered questions as if we were bothering her. For example, “Instead of the mashed potatoes, can I get fries?” Answer: “I don’t know, but I guess I’ll check”, in exasperation.  But, honestly, that is perfectly fine. A waitress not being happy will not ruin my food.
What will ruin it, though, is being rude to customers. First off, the service was very slow. While the tiny restaurant was full, it took almost an hour after our food order to receive our food. At about 45 minutes, one of my friends asked if our waitress could check on our food. Granted, I would have never done this, it will come when its ready. However, she was just curious, she wasn’t being rude in the least.
The waitress came back and said “As expected, they are working on it”, with an attitude. When she moved on to fill water at the next table, we mentioned that she seemed rude and our table agreed most waitresses/ waiters do not speak to customers like that. At that moment, she looked at us (in front of the other customers she was serving) and mouthed “I can hear you”.  At that moment, it was decided we don’t like our waitress, and she definitely does not like us.
We saw her only one other time after that, to see how to split our checks, that evening. Of course, she asked “I assume these are all separate?” in annoyance. (Which, by the way, was not true.) Other servers gave us our food, refilled our waters, etc.

With all that being said, the other staff members were beyond pleasant. The guy with the dread-locks was so kind and friendly, as was the new girl refilling water glasses. Everyone else was as nice as could be. Our waitress was the only issue here.


Will I come back? Of course! I love The Root. However, I did miss my banh mi at dinner, so I’ll probably be back for lunch for my next visit. Also, there was a “help wanted” sign on the door, so I may apply for a job next summer. Seriously, that would be pretty fun. More importantly, I can help the wait staff project the true kindness and community The Root is based upon.


Food Review: Southern Gourmasian was Amasian, with guest writer Lori!

I have been to the Southern Gourmasian food truck at least half a dozen times. Though, I have only gotten one thing: the eggs benedict. It is the perfect eggs benedict with a perfect egg and delicious hollandaise sauce every. single. time. So, you can’t blame me. However, it has taken me and my foodie friends entirely too long to try their restaurant, but we finally did. Here’s the breakdown with the help of my favorite sis in law and friend, Lori.

The Environment

Amy: Just like most new restaurants opening downtown these days, this space is very modern and nice. With slightly dimmed lights, an open floor plan, and a variety of different seating options, it is a great space to have dinner. However, on a Friday night, we were shocked to be one of the few people there at 6:00. By the time we left, more people were starting to pour in, but I am surprised this place isn’t packed?

Lori: I was also surprised at the lack of customers on a Friday night. It’s a few blocks away from the river market, so maybe that has something to do with it? I would be curious to know how busy they are at lunch. I sure wish they would have been open when I worked downtown!

The Menu

Lori: The menu isn’t huge, but everything seems really well thought out and delicious! The only thing I wish they would add is a cocktail menu. I feel like they could come up with some really unique flavor combinations that could compliment their menu perfectly.

Amy: Everything on the menu sounds delicious, so it is so hard trying to figure out which to choose. From great sounding salads, to burgers, to ramen, I have a LOT to try here.

The Food

Pork Belly Corndogs, $7

Amy: This was my favorite thing I ate here. Three of us split this, so we each got a small hot dog for our appetizer. The corn meal batter was sweet, though not crispy, which I would prefer. However, the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly on the inside more than made up for it. These dogs are good on their own, but the tangy mustard and pickled onion paired really nice with the richness of the pork. I will definitely get these again.

Lori: First of all, corndogs are some of my favorite fried food (besides fries, we’ll get to that) so I was all about trying these pork belly corndogs. Amy and I are total opposites when it comes to bread though. I’m probably in the minority, but I actually like slightly doughy bread. I know that sounds gross but I can’t help it! Although I do normally like crispy corndogs, these were soft and the juicy pork belly made the inside of the corndog a little mushy, which I really liked. The pickled onions were the perfect addition. I would definitely order them again!

The inside of the pork belly corndog.

Hand Cut Fries with Sambal Ketchup, $2.5

Lori: So, fries. I love fries and ketchup, and I’m really not that picky. I love hand cut fries and like Amy, McDonald’s fries are some of the best, I don’t care what anyone says! These fries were good, although not crispy, the delicious ketchup made up for it. I had enough self control not to lick the bowl, although I wanted to, SO GOOD!

Amy: Honestly, these are my least favorite type of fries. You know the type, hand cut with not much crispiness on the outside. But McDonald’s has my favorite fries, so my taste on fries is pretty low class. However, the ketchup was interesting. It is a Sambal ketchup, so I expected the typical “hot sauce” to make the ketchup spicy,  but it was very sweet. I liked it!

Korean Fried Chicken with Jalapeno Cornbread and One Side, $9.5

Amy: Cristianna got this plate with a side of smoky braised greens. I tried the chicken and the cornbread. My perfect fried chicken has a thick, very crispy batter. This one did not. It hardly seemed fried at all, really. However, the flavor was good and it was pretty juicy.
The cornbread was tasty. It was full of jalapenos, so it was very spicy but also very smoky. The crust was nicely browned and crunchy, too.
Cristianna said the greens were very smoky, but needed salt.

Lori: The fried chicken was the most disappointing thing I tried. If your restaurant has the word “southern” in the name, you better have a scold on some fried chicken! The batter didn’t seem to fry well and didn’t crisp up or keep the chicken juicy. I hope they keep trying to perfect it because it should be a menu staple!


Spicy Chicken and Dumplings with shiitake mushrooms, onions, and black bean chile sauce,  $8.5

Lori: i only tried a small bite of this dish, and was surprised how unique and tasty it was. The dumplings were way different than anything I’ve tried before. They were a little chewy and doughy, so you know I liked them! I don’t think i could eat a whole bowl of this, but I’m glad I tried it.

Amy: This was my dish. I have wanted to try this famous dish for a long time, and I had high expectations…which is usually a set up for failure. But these did not disappoint! And it was still unexpectedly unique.  I imagined the chicken would be pulled, but it was cut into small cubes, which made for easy eating. And there was a ton of chicken! The rice cakes, or “dumplings”, were very strange because I’ve never had anything like them. They were very dense and chewy.  I also loved the big slices of shiitakes. All of this came together with that delicious spicy sauce! It was full of flavor with the perfect kick! Some have said it is too spicy, but please! By the time I finished the bowl, my nose just barely started to run and nothing was hurting from the heat. There’s enough heat to feel it, but not to overpower the other flavors. I loved it!
I did think, compared to the other dishes, this was pretty small for being more expensive than most of the other items on the menu. But after I finished it off, I realized how filling it really was.

Balinese Chicken with cilantro honey vin, $7.5

Lori: This was my dish, and I’ll be honest, wasn’t feeling all that adventurous so I got something I had tried before. I LOVE their steamed buns, again love doughy bread…so of course I got the steamed buns?!  I really wouldn’t even care what was inside steamed buns, because…steamed buns! The chicken was tender and the flavor is something you just don’t find at any other restaurant. I love how unique it is. I subbed the chips for fries, mostly for more of that ketchup. I also really enjoyed the fresh, crunchy, spicy mango sriracha slaw they put on the side, I just wish i had more of it!

Chicken Fried Cauliflower Steak with sauteed veggies and pear ginger relish, $8

Amy: Lindsay, the group vegetarian, got this dish. It was really big for only being $8. Surprisingly, the fried cauliflower looked more like fried chicken than Cristianna’s fried chicken. And it was delicious! The cauliflower had the seasonings of fried chicken, though definitely still tasted like cauliflower, in a good way. But the crunchy coating was delicious and really made the cauliflower shine. I wouldn’t think of having sauteed veggies and a pear ginger relish with fried chicken, but that’s why I don’t own my own restaurant. #nocreativity  The veggies cooked perfectly so they still gave some bite and the pickled relish was sweet and complimented the fried cauliflower perfectly. I loved it!!!

Lori: I was so surprised at how crispy this cauliflower was, WAY crispier than the fried chicken?? If you put it side by side with the chicken, you would have thought this was the chicken. I don’t know what they do differently, but they should try to make the chicken just as crispy as the cauliflower, because that was amazing. The flavors all worked SO well together, I would have licked the plate. We all relatively kept our manners about ourselves though. 🙂


Lori: I will definitely be back! This place feels like a hidden gem, even though their food truck is at nearly every event in Little Rock. We are so lucky to have a place with such unique flavors right downtown for such reasonable prices! While we were eating we were daydreaming about what their brunch menu would look like…Lindsay’s brilliant idea: the fried cauliflower on top of waffles! I mean….can we please make this happen, Southern Gourmasian?!? I also would LOVE some dessert steamed buns! Oh and some interesting mimosas while you’re at it! Can’t wait to see what the future holds for their brick and mortar restaurant!

Amy: I gotta get back there soon! Everything I had was delicious and surprisingly affordable. However, there are about a dozen other things on the menu I need to try. The ramen is #1 on that list and I can’t wait!