Rustic Root

On June 30 of this year, we had the chance to try Rustic Root in San Diego’s Gaslamp neighborhood.  The first night we went there, the rooftop was not yet open for business.  We sat in the main room of the restaurant and had a great meal with our friend Tristan Holmes who is the executive chef of Indulchi Catering.  We started with a beautiful charcuterie board that included a great selection of cheeses candied nuts and spreads.  The service was friendly, but it was clear that they were still on their learning curve.  It took a while for our dinners to arrive but when they did, we were very happy with our selections.  Tristan and I both had the Lobster Pappardelle which was oven baked in a chili pepper sherry cream sauce.  The plate offered a wonderful balance of lobster and pasta, and the sauce was outstanding.  Paul had the RR Burger which features a fried egg, bacon jam, caramelized onion and a mustard aioli.   The burger was good, but perhaps a little over salted.  It was certainly a messy burger to eat, but that should not be read as a negative.  🙂

A few weeks later I went back to the rooftop bar to have some appetizers and wine and was pleased to walk away with an even better impression of this restaurant.  There are very few rooftop bars in the Gaslamp.  Rustic Root’s patio is a comfortable, cozy space, and the staff were very friendly.

They have a nice wine selection by the glass and for the hot afternoon, I tried a lovely rose, and a light pinot noir.  The bar menu offers lighter fare than the main restaurant, but two of the three items I tried were stand-outs!  The Carnitas Bao Bao Sliders (which appears to no longer be on their menu) was one of my favorites.  The light fluffy Asian buns provided a delicate platform for the beautifully seasoned meat.  The Firecracker Shrimp was an interesting combination of a shrimp with an egg-roll casing, fried and served with a sriracha aioli.  This wasn’t the most attractive plate they presented, but  it was very tasty.  The last thing I tried was the Bison Meatballs.  These were served with a rich savory whiskey sauce with rustic crustini.  Wow!  The service staff said this was one of their most popular items and I can understand why.

If I was to be critical of  Rustic Root, I would have to say that their menu lack originality, but rather seems to be drawing inspiration from many of the top restaurants in town.  For example, RR offers a “Surf & Turf” with beef tartare and quail eggs and hamachi — except for the addition of the seafood, it is not a far stretch from Juniper & Ivy’s signature dish, Carne Cruda Asada.  The Firecracker Shrimp mirrors the flavor and texture profiles of Kettner Exchange’s Spicy Shrimp.  Unfortunately for this dish, RR falls short of their inspiration on execution and presentation.

At the end of the day, San Diego’s Gaslamp is filled with restaurants that are often focused on tourists and convention visitors.  Rustic Root is a fun, friendly restaurant that has a great rooftop view.  I hope that they find their own culinary voice and begin to develop a unique identify.  Even at opening, the food was impressive and I expect that it will only get better.  So the next time you are downtown at Horton Plaza, or watching a baseball game, give Rustic Root a try.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.


Rustic Root Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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