Another of Eater's Most Anticipated Openings of 2015 has soft launched in the Gaslamp; RMD Group, local nightlife specialists (FLUXX, Sidebar) who've transitioned into restaurateurs, along with Ken Lovi of The Knotty Barrel and executive chef/partner Antonio Friscia, have reteamed up to open their second food-focused project, Rustic Root, in the 2,500-square-foot space adjacent to their Mexican-influenced Don Chido.
The Davis Ink Ltd-designed eatery, which is now open daily for dinner, opens up to a 500-square-foot sidewalk patio; inside, a collection of colanders hang above a lounge area that gives way a to a mirrored dining room holding a wall-sized crossword puzzle and communal table made of rolling pins.
Friscia's menu is a mix of classic American dishes with modern twists. The surf & turf pairs quail egg-topped beef tartare with hamachi sashimi, steamed mussels get an addition of uni better and elk chops come with mole and almond-chili puree. For anyone who missing his take on Asian plates at the now-shuttered Gaijin, Friscia's carnitas "bao bao" sliders reappear here.
The cocktail program include craftier versions of shots, from a gin Gimlet to Manhattan Brunch, that each come with a custom garnish and can be also ordered in regular cocktail sizes. A signature drink menu concentrates on the classics, including the 1930 Sazerac and the 1941 Moscow mule. Rustic Root will expand into brunch shortly, and in mid-June, will launch the second half of the restaurant, an equally-sized rooftop lounge space, perched above 5th Avenue, that will have its own bar, kitchen and menu.