Grassroots Kitchen & Tap - Common Ground Culinary

Reviewed By: Andy & Leslie
We were searching for a light lunch, you know, a salad or something, because it was a hot summer day.  We had only been in town about a week or so, and weren't yet familiar with the restaurant choices in our neighborhood.  So we hopped on our trusty cruisers and rode over to Mercado Del Lago Mall which is conveniently located at Via De Ventura and North Hayden.  There we discovered Grassroots, and Andy discovered the only salad he has ever loved.

Ambience:  Upon entering Grassroots you are greeted by a well dressed and friendly hostess.  She will ask if you have a reservation and find a seat for you either at the bar, in the dining room, or on the patio.  We usually like the patio.  The restaurant gives off a bit of an upscale farmhouse feel.  There might even be shiplap on the walls.  There are bookcases with vintage cookbooks and warm, homey decor.  The patio is usually busy, well shaded, and has heaters for the evenings.  There are plants and greenery to block the road.  Andy usually prefers the patio because we've noticed every third car is an exotic car and he can point them out behind me as they drive by, providing minutes of entertainment for both of us.

Quality:  We have to admit that overall Common Ground Culinary has their act together when it comes to consistency and quality of their menu items. Grassroots is no exception.  Common Ground Burrata is a favorite.  Creamy cheese served with nicely dressed greens, toasted fresh bread, and the pies de resistance is the spicy tomato jam.  Oh the tomato jam... sweet, spicy, fragrant tomato jam... it also comes on the grilled cheese.  I don't think they bottle it for sale, but they should. The Seasmoke and Orzo Salad is Andy's one true love when it comes to salads.  It is fresh greens with smoked salmon, orzo, tomatoes, and a refreshing creamy dressing.  It is a very large portion, perfect to share, or you can continue eating it on your own, but you won't have room for the other delicious menu items.  My favorite is the Blackened Redfish, served with Dirty Orzo--which is a take on Dirty Rice--orzo with andouille sausage, cajun seasonings, and a whole lot of love. There is something for everybody on the menu and it's all really good.

Service:  Service is always friendly.  They pay attention to refills, are quick to clear dishes, and the course timing is pretty good.  All the servers seem happy and professional.  At least one of them can sell you dessert and you won't even know what just happened.  She mentioned the hole in my soul that seemed to be screaming for a Chocolate Toffee Brownie.  I don't even know how she knew or how it happened, but the hole in my soul was happy because the Chocolate Toffee Brownie disappeared as quickly as it appeared.

Value:  For the quality of food, consistency, and enthusiastic service, Grassroots is a pretty good value.  The happy hour menu has items that do not appear on the normal dinner menu, which makes it a special go-to happy hour spot.  Drink prices and pours are reasonable and the food is outstanding.

Overall, Andy and I really enjoy Grassroots.  It's just a skip from our house which is convenient and happy hour on the patio is a nice way to linger the late afternoon.  It's usually the first restaurant we mention when neither of us feels like cooking and just want a casual dinner.  Each of the Common Grounds restaurants has a certain specialty, but there is a commonality between them: the consistency of the menu and quality service...and the spicy tomato jam.