First Look

First Look: Roots Southern Table is Everything We Hoped For

Full Southern style: duck fat fried chicken, greens and a cornbread fritter.
Full Southern style: duck fat fried chicken, greens and a cornbread fritter. Chris Wolfgang
click to enlarge Tiffany Derry's Roots Southern Table opened on June 18 in Farmers Branch. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
Tiffany Derry's Roots Southern Table opened on June 18 in Farmers Branch.
Chris Wolfgang
We've written at length about Tiffany Derry, most recently about her new restaurant Roots Southern Table, which opened on June 18 in Farmers Branch. So let's not bury the lead any further: Yes, the duck-fat fried chicken is still on the menu, and yes, it's still spectacular.

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.

click to enlarge Full Southern style: duck fat fried chicken, greens and a cornbread fritter. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
Full Southern style: duck fat fried chicken, greens and a cornbread fritter.
Chris Wolfgang
Service was sharp; our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable, taking time to explain the menu layout while making personalized suggestions. For our table of six, food arrived quickly, as ordered, a water glass rarely made it past half-empty and a dropped utensil promptly replaced.

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.


click to enlarge Smoked sea salt-infused butter and house-made strawberry rhubarb preserves come with the skillet cornbread. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
Smoked sea salt-infused butter and house-made strawberry rhubarb preserves come with the skillet cornbread.
Chris Wolfgang
Thoughtful execution on the menu items abounds. We started with the cast-iron skillet cornbread ($12), which arrived with a side of strawberry rhubarb preserves and smoked sea salt butter, the latter under a small glass bell lid to contain the smoke infusing the butter. The fried shrimp and grits arrived as perfectly crisped balls of shrimp and grits in a tangy tomato broth.

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.

click to enlarge Crawfish boil ravioli - CHRIS WOLFGANG
Crawfish boil ravioli
Chris Wolfgang
Our sides naturally included Roots' Southern greens ($10), which were served with a cornbread fritter that was perfect for soaking up extra broth from the greens, and Hoppin' Johns ($8), the classic dirty rice/black-eyed pea medley so infused with Southern charm that you can't help but start speaking with a drawl after a bite. Creamed corn ($8) would earn the admiration of any grandmother from the South.

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.

click to enlarge This fruit pizza, layered on a sugar cookie crust, is the perfect summer dessert. - CHRIS WOLFGANG
This fruit pizza, layered on a sugar cookie crust, is the perfect summer dessert.
Chris Wolfgang
We had a chance to chat briefly with Derry at the end of our meal, who was excited to have the first weekend of service under her belt.

"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.
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Chris Wolfgang has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2015. Originally from Florida, Chris moved to Dallas in 1997 and has carried on a secret affair with the Oxford comma for over 20 years.
Contact: Chris Wolfgang