Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No meat, no booze, no matter at Roots

Bowl o' Pho at Roots. LEO photo by Frankie Steele.
Roots, with its next-door companion Heart & Soy, is coming up on its third anniversary this summer, and both spots appear to be going strong, filled with happy diners nightly.

So how does that work, when neither upscale Roots nor street-food Heart & Soy offer so much as a bite of meat or a sip of booze? I think it has something to do with what restaurateur Huong "Coco" Tran calls Roots' "mindful, compassionate cooking," a plant-based cuisine so good that even the most obligate carnivore can chow down without even missing animal flesh.

The booze thing might be a stickier wicket for some, but as I see it, Tran's brightly colored and boldly flavored dishes make your palate so happy that there's no real need to crank up one's attitude with an adult beverage. Anyway, you're on Bardstown Road! A quick stroll in either direction will bring you to an after-dinner drink within moments, if that's your pleasure.

Or go for a change of pace and tickle your mind with a different kind of psycho-active fluid. I'm talking tea here, and not just your mass-market Lipton's but something from the extensive tea list, such as steaming, aromatic pots of Himalayan Mountain Tips, First Flush from Nepal or India, and Darjeeling Soom Estate. Tea makes everything better: That's enlightenment for you.

I speak of "enlightenment" with conscious intent, as Zen Buddhism infuses Tran's attitudes and inspires her "mindful, compassionate" approach to hospitality and fine dining.

Read my full review on LouisvilleHotBytes, or click to it in this week's LEO Weekly.