BBQ Seitan Spring Rolls at Root, a pub in Lancaster PA. Seitan is a vegetable based protein.
For a cooking blog, I still eat out too and enjoy the experience of the latest and up and coming trends in my neighborhood and areas nearby and then of course there are the big cities which are in leagues of their own. Dining out was actually how I gained the inspiration and creativity to be a little braver and more courageous in the kitchen which ultimately spawned the birth of Crumbs. Eating out used to be a challenge and limited to Asian or Indian cuisine during church fasting periods but options are no longer so limited as a wide variety of local restaurants have been cropping up on the scene and the good news is that some of them are right in our backyards.
For my first review, I am going to introduce you to Root. Root is a year old vegan restaurant located in downtown Lancaster, PA which has become a truly inventive, creative and progressive community on it’s own throughout the years. No longer is Lancaster solely predominated by Amish or the ever glorified buffet. It’s still there but now thanks revitalization to parts of the downtown, there is a new focus for the population: community. Central Market, the nation’s oldest farmers market, is still there but surrounding it are local, independent shops, a local, active theater to art galleries and a variety of local restaurants that is growing to please every taste palette. The aim is local with quite a few restaurants only sourcing their products from farms no further than seventy miles away. And they still close their doors after a certain time on Sundays. Some things don’t change, but when they do – be open to embracing it. And then there’s places like Root.
Like the city of Lancaster, veganism too has changed dramatically over the years. You may wonder, why would someone want to make a restaurant out of just beans and rice? But readers, there’s way more to it. Why? Some people choose to eat vegan all of the time, 24/7 and they choose to do so for maybe ethical reasons, maybe environmental reasons, maybe health reasons and maybe just all of the above. And then there’s those of us who eat like that during fast periods. Most of these people are just like you and I, who still crave a sloppy joe or pulled pork burger without sacrificing their morals or diet. Seems impossible? Still think vegans and those who fast should still be eating nuts and seeds and then beans? An ascetic may beg to differ, but most of us really just want a burger. And then there’s Root.
At Root, there’s a whole two page menu chalk full of vegan appetizers, entrees, desserts, beers and wine (some of them vegan) and salads – for you know, that stereotypical vegan. The menu changes every four weeks and ingredients are crafted in a very clean, open kitchen in the first vegan pub to sweep central PA. But now you’re wondering, that’s all fine and good, but you’re not vegan yet this place seems interesting. That’s why I felt a little nervous upon visiting for the first time because although I thrive on a mostly plant-based diet, I am not vegan, and have met some vegans that only want to associate themselves with other vegans. Makes sense, but seems kind of closed minded.
To my relief, the attitude was down to earth and totally cool at Root, a few of the staff admitting that they aren’t vegan and one of them eats meat. But just because the attitude is down to earth doesn’t mean that they are going to start serving animal meat and I hope they don’t. Because even though the attitude is down to earth, the people most attracted to places like Root are going to be those who are vegan or have similar values. And in one way, that’s fine with me.
Change is necessary and constant, but some things shouldn’t have to change without sacrificing the true mission.At one point, you used to be able to find places like this in the big city and for Lancaster, the closest big cities are Philadelphia or NYC, the opportunity of the personalities and like minded values that are present back home at our roots. No pun intended. 😉
Root’s chilled sweet potato tacos. The sweet potatoes are served chilled which seems awkward at first, but it totally works!
Root’s applesauce cake. Dessert options are expected to change often. If you keep going back, you’ll get to experience new flavors!
Trust me, it really is spectacular.
Downtown Lancaster, a city of changes.