Wow, it's been a while since I wrote about an actual restaurant. The truth is I eat out for lunch most days and luckily there are TONS of options within walking distance of work. Roots is a staple in my lunch rotation. Originally Roots was marketed as the only vegetarian restaurant in Bloomington. Central to the menu were dishes featuring tofu, tempeh, and seitan. I remember ordering the Grilled Veggie Pita soon after the restaurant opened and not being too impressed with it. More recently, Roots added Thai specialties to their menu and I think that's where the restaurant really shines.
They make some delicious curries and noodle dishes. The lunch price is pretty good, $8.95, and the portions are fairly large (Dinner prices are $12.95). They all feature tofu as the protein but Roots now offers shrimp for an extra $2. My favorite thing about the Thai entrees is that they're full of good quality vegetables. Most of the curries have carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, and cabbage with variations between the varieties. My favorite is the Ginger curry, but the Red, Yellow, and Peanut Sauce curries are also fantastic.
Maybe the best dish on the Roots menu is the Pad Kee Mao. Chewy rice noodles with a spicy garlic basil sauce, tofu and stir fried vegetables. I'm not really a huge basil fan in general, but I love these noodles! I think it's the garlic, which does a great job of balancing out the basil. I also really like the Pad Woo Sen. It features cellophane noodles in a sweet soy ginger sauce. It also has stir fried egg and miscellaneous veggies. My dad's a big fan of the Pad Thai, it's definitely one of the best versions in Bloomington. The Teriyaki Noodles and Yellow Curry Peanut Noodles are also tasty but a can be inconsistent, sometimes I've found the sauce to be a bit bland and watery.
On the non-Thai front, the sweet potato fries are delicious and come as a side with most of the vegetarian (non-Thai) options. I like the Falafel Pita because it has lots of fresh veggies and tasty hummus. But the falafel balls themselves are on the small side, kind of disappointing. Roots also does a nice, but not particularly special, omelet. Their side salads are good too, full of fresh veggies and served with house-made balsamic vinaigrette.
As for appetizers, the spring rolls are yummy. But you only get three (cut in half, sneaky) for around $5. A better deal are the delicious Curry Puffs (sorry no picture!) which are filled with sweet potato and other veggies. The Sweet Potato Curry Soup is tasty but so thick, it almost feels like an actual curry instead of soup. Roots also serves smoothies and fresh squeezed juice. The smoothies are a bit pricey, $4.95, but they're fresh and tasty. I like the Berry and the Strawberry Crush. I'm also a fan of their Soy Chai latte and house iced tea.
The interior of Roots is really lovely. It's full of light and has gorgeous wood-carved booths and nice wood tables. You can get a feel for the decor a little behind Miss Katy in this shot. There's also great outdoor seating around. I have found Roots to be occasionally under-staffed, especially at lunch time. But the servers are always super nice and helpful, if a little distracted. Bloomington is full of Thai restaurants. There are at least at least five just between Kirkwood and Fourth Street (see Esan Thai and Little Tibet) but Roots really gives them some good competition.
124 North Walnut Street
Bloomington, IN 47404-4911