Merchant Roots launches ‘Stone Soup’ themed menu featuring mulled wine and magic stones

It’s been over three years since chef-owner Ryan Shelton started Merchant Roots as an artisan food store, and two years since he abandoned the idea of ​​turning the space into a fine dining restaurant. Of course, there has been a global pandemic since then, which means this week will mark the restaurant’s relaunch as a collective dining experience, bringing diners inside to enjoy a new menu with a playful theme. – while the team is still riding on its heels. recent inclusion in the California Michelin Guide for the first time.

Starting Wednesday, October 20, Shelton and the team at Merchant Roots will be launching a menu that starts with a cup of toddy (okay, so that’s green chili mulled wine) and ends with a magic stone and a mousse and carrot cake. The nine courses borrow from Stone soup, the classic European folk tale about how sharing can result in something better than the sum of its parts. And although Shelton admits he has no particular attachment to the book, he says he had “shunned” the idea of ​​a menu inspired by fairy tales and folklore since before opening Merchant Roots. . The downtime caused by the pandemic finally gave it time to bring it to life. “I was so bored that I honestly started to think about old ideas and how to flesh them out,” Shelton laughs.

Merchant roots

The result are dishes which riff on the idea that “stone and water become much more than they appear,” he says, and which lean a little magical thanks to playful touches of the horn. -the eye. For example, there is an appetizer of smoked tomato and grilled cheese soup – except the soup is tomato water which is extracted to be clear and the sandwich is baked in edible clay. The course is presented in a bespoke container with more “rocks” glued to the bottom, so diners will be presented with what looks like a bowl of still water and rocks. Additional entrees include an onion salad with an all-bagel onion ring, miso-glazed rock cod in lemongrass and shisho nage, carrot curry with crispy pork belly and a sweet potato soufflé served in brown marbled concrete bowl – see full menu below.

The theatricality also goes beyond the plate. The meal begins outside, where guests are greeted like “weary travelers,” Shelton says, with a bite of trail mix. Next, they’ll venture inside where Shelton deconstructed the eight-seat table that once hosted the Merchant Roots communal indoor dinners. In light of the pandemic and the lack of interest in the common dining room, Shelton literally took an ax off the beautiful custom-made wooden table to pull out four tables for two, which he arranged in a circle around it. ‘a false hearth and pot. It was a necessary sacrifice, says the chief. “I love this painting. But when you’re a business owner and you have a bottleneck in front of you, you’re going to put your loved ones aside, but something else? You go straight through.

the Stone soup The menu will run from now through February 19, 2022 with the nine-course tasting menu priced at $ 134, plus an additional $ 83 for an optional food and wine pairing. Shelton says he also plans to bring back the Chef’s Circle in the New Year, a sort of membership club for Merchant Roots super-fans that grants early access to booking, a few “little gifts” and – can. -be most important – the right to vote on the menus the team will tackle in the coming months. Shelton says the contribution from diners is part of what he loves about the Merchant Roots’ intimate dining format, which only offers two seats, four or five nights a week. “I don’t find the exclusivity fun,” he says. “Although I see the call. Instead, he says he landed on the idea of ​​themed menus and experiential dinners, which were born out of pop-ups he hosted in space around the time he went. was still operating an artisanal food store, as a way for him to practice his craft and to keep diners excited to come back for more. “I opened my heart to people and showed them who I am,” he says. “It was like, okay, that’s the funniest thing. Let’s do this.”

Reservations are required and are now available for the Stone Soup menu at Merchant Roots on Knock.

The Stone Soup-themed dining set-up features a faux fireplace with a pot for the soup in the middle of a circle of two on it.

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