The far reaches of Oakland County outside Detroit are home to strip malls featuring discount stores, car dealerships and nail salons. White Lake Township, an oxymoron of lakefront cottages and mansions, is not known as a fine-dining destination. What a surprise, then, to find the Root smack-dab next to JC Penney.
The innocuous exterior hearkens more toward a Panera Bread than a casually elegant dining destination. However, inside is classy wood and stone decor with clean lines, faux branches set in oak dividers and plenty of natural light. The atmosphere is organic yet refined, and at night, the place warms with music and tiny fairy lights.
Named both for the basis of nature and the owner’s concern about the state of dining in Michigan, Root serves locally sourced and highly imaginative food. At the entrance, visitors are greeted with a list of food suppliers like Guernsey Farm, Miller Farm, Power’s Root Beer and Chateau Grand Traverse wines, also recognized on the extensive menu.
The seasonal soups ($5/cup, $7/bowl) are fantastic, as are fresh innovative salads of fruit, veggie and cheese ($8). Dinner entrees range a reasonable $16 to $30. For dessert, don’t miss the decadent s’mores-like Root Campfire Cup ($8), a luscious chocolate pudding cake with house-made marshmallow and graham crackers.