Photos by Jacki Dyrholm.
Though Grass Rootes Kitchen and Cocktail opened only a year ago, a timelessness permeates the New American restaurant’s menu, ambiance, and architecture. The fixtures blend past, present, and future: a wrought-iron lattice alludes to the building’s stint as a Civil War prison; fine art photographs imbue the dining space with a “jazzy, cool, a little funky, and relaxed vibe,” in the words of the owner, Andrew Ferlazzo; and metallic, abstract, hypercube chandeliers by local artist Roque Castro lend the space a futuristic quality. The menu similarly blends concepts old and new, at once epitomizing and eschewing trendy labels like “farm-to-table” and “comfort foods.” Rather than flaunt these latest culinary buzzwords, Executive Chef Kevin Scott keeps it simple: “Fresh and local,” he says when asked what separates a “good” dish from a “great” dish. Menu items such as seared salmon, fried catfish, and bison sliders showcase Scott’s formal training—he is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland—as well as his childhood spent in Kansas cooking alongside his grandmother. An industry veteran with 30 years’ experience, Ferlazzo partners with local farms such as Seminole Farm and Flora in Culpeper and Berezan Family Farm in Hartwood, exchanging business for the the coveted first pick of all seasonal vegetables. These recipes, like the dishes at Grass Rootes, are unadorned and simple to prepare, yet they boast a wonderful, intriguing palette of flavors. When sourcing your ingredients, be sure to heed Chef Scott’s philosophy and purchase the freshest local products you possibly can. As Chef Scott would say, “There’s no faking flavor.”
Crispy Halibut with Tapenade
1 zucchini, cut into 1” cubes
1 large eggplant, cut into 1” cubes
2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 red onion, diced
1 jar of traditional Italian marinara
2 tbsps. capers
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°. Toss eggplant, zucchini, and peppers in olive oil, then arrange on foil-lined baking tray. Place in oven for 20 minutes.
- On a skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, then red onion, and sauté. Once sautéed, turn the heat down to low, add marinara, and heat mixture—stirring occasionally—until warm, careful not to bring to a boil.
- Combine contents of skillet and baked vegetables, then add capers. Set aside.
2 halibut (approx. 8 oz.)
1 cup instant potato flakes
1 cup seasoned flour
- Keep oven heated at 425°.
- Whisk eggs in bowl and combine potato flakes and flour on a separate large plate.
- Brush halibut with egg mixture, then coat in flake-flour mixture.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Sauté halibut until golden brown on both sides, then remove from heat and place in oven for five minutes to finish.
- To plate, make a bed of tapenade and serve halibut atop.