We were able to score a table on opening weekend and are thrilled to report that there's a lot to love at Derry's long-awaited full-service restaurant. Let's start with the venue itself. Inside the brick facade, the dining room feels airy and spacious thanks to off-white walls, plenty of windows and high ceilings. No more than a dozen and half tables make up the dining room, and a modest bar sits along the back of the space and looks into the kitchen.
We opened with an old fashioned from the bar, made with Uncle Nearest bourbon. As the story goes, Nathan "Uncle Nearest" Green was a slave who taught Jack Daniel's everything he knew about making whiskey. The cocktail was spot on, while the touch of history behind the ingredients reinforces Derry's themes across the menu.
From the supper menu, we were able to try the crawfish boil ravioli ($26), which earned high marks from all who sampled it. The ravioli dough is perhaps thicker than a traditional ravioli and almost gnocchi-like, but it allows more of the corn and sausage boil broth to soak in for a flavor boost.
And of course, we ordered the duck-fat fried chicken ($56), served family-style as a whole chicken, separated into pieces, and arriving in a bowl with a small side of Louisiana-style hot sauce. No sooner than the food arrived, a staffer brought by a new mango-habanero hot sauce for the poultry, which bumped up the heat but still kept plenty of flavor. We were told we were the first table to try it, and you should definitely ask if it's available.
Three items make up the dessert menu ($10 each), and we tried two of them. The fruit pizza was a medley of macerated seasonal fresh fruit, thinly sliced and served on a pastry that best resembled a sugar cookie, and dusted with powdered sugar. Meanwhile, the old-school chocolate cake touched with cinnamon chocolate sauce and garnished with strawberries, raspberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream was an instant classic among our dining companions.
"I'm just happy I get to sleep in tomorrow," Derry said. "I feel like I haven't slept in a month."
Despite the sleep deprivation, the pride was evident on Derry's face during the opening weekend of her long-awaited restaurant. Her dedication is apparent in every part of Roots Southern Kitchen, and we couldn't be more pleased with the end result.
Roots Southern Kitchen, 13050 Bee Street #100, Farmers Branch. Open 5 - 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.