After a soft opening for friends and family, Wild Roots hung out its official welcome flag at 5615 Route 14 in Royalton last Thursday, May 18. In the kitchen was chef Peter Varkonyi, formerly of Fagiani's in Napa, Calif., and Denver hot spot Beast + Bottle. He dished out modern American fare such as halibut crudo with buttermilk and tender greens; honeyed, ash-roasted carrots dusted with bee pollen over yogurt; and nettle-scallion dumplings with ricotta whey and herbs.
Wild Roots stands on the site of the Fox Stand Tavern, a historic stage stop that remained a local watering hole through the mid-1990s, then shuttered for most of a decade. Local chef Jed Cohan reopened the business intermittently starting in 2014 but mostly used the building for his catering business before moving into a new space last year.
So when locals saw the "open" sign last week, it piqued their curiosity. "We were way busier than we anticipated," said owner Jayne Sully Cole, a Level 2 sommelier who manages the front of house. "A lot of people stopped in to see what was going on."
Behind the bar, Sully Cole poured glasses of biodynamic and sustainably grown wines from small-batch wineries. On Saturday, Stonecutter Spirits bartender Martha Mack visited with gin and whiskey cocktails. (For now, Wild Roots offers only beer and wine most nights, though a full liquor license is in the works, Sully Cole said.) Guests oohed and ahed at plates of spicy clams and handmade bucatini, sided with snacks such as creamed dandelion greens and fresh bread made with Rogers Farmstead grains by sous chef Ashleigh Putnam.
From ingredients to embellishments, most everything is local, including the flower arrangements by Bethel's Stitchdown Farm, stoneware plates by Bethel's Two Potters and fish from Wood Mountain Fish. Varkonyi is working with more than 30 local farms to source dairy, veggies and meats.
For the next two weeks, the restaurant will serve dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Sully Cole plans to launch Saturday and Sunday brunch on June 3 with a boozy, caffeinated kickoff party with friends from SILO Distillery and Abracadabra Coffee.