Restaurant Review: Strictly Roots

Strictly Roots
2058 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard (7th Avenue)
(between West 122nd Street and West 123rd Street)
Harlem, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (2.5/4)

Strictly Roots wears their Rasta colors boldly with a color scheme of reds, blacks, and greens throughout the restaurant, and the décor helps considerably in making them stand out from the surrounding eateries on their block.

Similar to our other Ital experiences, the restaurant is solely counter service, but the dining room has a large number of seats, giving it the feel of a more traditional restaurant.

The staff and the patrons have great personality. The counter worker was friendly and helpful in introducing the menu to us, and the regulars added significant character (a slow-moving chess game was taking place in the back of the restaurant, and uninhibited conversation was occasionally tossed across the dining room between patrons). It’s still a comfortable experience for the uninitiated though; the space and its aura is that of a relaxed, welcoming neighborhood spot.

Moving on to the food, Brian and I each chose a dinner platter with 4 items. On his plate, faux-chicken medallions were mushy, though the flavor was OK when dressed up with a bit of hot sauce. The baked garbanzo beans were good – they were moist, with a deep, smoky BBQ flavor. The plaintains were also good – sweet and soft, but substantial.

On my plate, the fried tofu was thinly sliced, with a crisp fried exterior. There was not much flavor beyond the tofu itself. The pumpkin purée was nicely done, with more savory than sweet flavors. The greens were very basic, and I was given far more on our plate than we could handle. Finally, a dumpling proved heavy with cooking grease, weighing down the stomach after an already heavy meal.

To drink, we had the homemade tamarind juice and a lemonade. Both had a fresh taste, but the addition of copious quantities of brown sugar made them incredibly sweet.

Overall, the food was very filling, and very heavy (more so than other Caribbean venues we’ve tried), so be prepared for some serious post-meal lethargy. That said, it’s also pretty cheap. At $14 each, we got a lot of food for the money, and we could have easily satiated our appetites with smaller and cheaper menu options.

Food (2.5/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (3/4)

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