Smoky cocktails and a modern take on American cuisine are the specialties of Roots & Rye, a dapper new gastrolounge and whisky bar that calls Santana Row home.
Tucked in the corner of a buzzing, artificially turfed public square that sits off the main drag, Roots & Rye exhibits a clean, modern style, with an able crew of trendily coiffed bartenders. Luxurious green couches and weathered wooden tables fill the lounge along with a back-lit white bar that illuminates a massive selection of libations. A frame of raw exposed wood beams gives the space structure without sacrificing breezes, while also giving a nod to the craft at work.
In addition to a craft cocktail program—three drinks are already on tap—more than 75 types of whisky and scotch are on hand, some of which are barrel-aged in house, according to general manager Justin Coutts. One of the coolest draws may be one of its most exclusive, though.
Roots & Rye will soon offer whisky lockers. Coutts said he expects to have 28 lockers available for regular customers to store a bottle for as long as a month at a time. If the whisky won’t do, guests are kept warm on the patio by overhead heaters and propane flames coming from pebbly troughs set within the low concrete tables. In the dining room, tiny succulent plants take the space of the customary candles.
The menu is straightforward and the appetizers are ample. Prime ingredients stand distinct and play off each other in simple, well-executed dishes. A couple dozen blistered padron peppers ($8) came in one order of the dish. The finger food leaned mild, but an occasional bite left a pleasant heat on the back of the tongue.
The plates are shareable and attempt to satisfy all diets and tastes, offering dishes like roasted baby beets ($12), recently legalized foie gras—served two ways for $28, and hearty beef short ribs dressed with a potato-carrot puree ($25).
I tried the House Pasta ($18), a buttery pappardelle made a bed for tangy goat cheese, bitter baby kale and slow-cooked lamb, all garnished by a couple fried basil leaves. The creamy goat cheese and bright kale leaves cut the gamey, salty fat of the lamb, and blended into a sumptuous sauce, giving the dish a satisfying balance.
Finally, for “dessert,” I tried their on-tap Old Fashion ($13). Roots and Rye lets this cocktail age in an oak barrel. The bourbon whiskey stood strong, complemented by the bitters, citrus and sweet demerara sugar.
In all, Roots and Rye is undeniably stylish and adds a distinctly American taste to the international flavors so often found at Santana Row.
Roots & Rye
3055 Olin Avenue Suite 1005; San Jose, CA 95128 408.429.2909