Man Food: The Po’ Boy Gets the Vegan Treatment at Root in Allston
This version is stuffed with cauliflower that mimics a fried oyster.
Welcome to Man Food, where burger pro Richard Chudy steps away from his usual burger beat to explore food challenges, street eats, and other gut-busting delights. Ladies are welcome, of course.
When it comes to hearty, satisfying fare, the word “vegan” typically doesn’t conjure positive associations. Thankfully, however, the days of leaning on faux foods and flavors to emulate meat in vegan cooking have fallen away in favor of honoring the ingredients that we should be highlighting: a full arsenal of vegetables, fruits, and grains. At the newish vegan spot Root in Allston, this is exactly what you’ll find.
Employees here are casual and down-to-earth; the interior is small but welcoming with a rustic, industrial vibe. There’s a big variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads, while juices and other house-made drinkable concoctions served in mason jars round out the mix.
The Cauliflower Po’ Boy ($9) is an eye-catching sandwich, and is housed in a large and fluffy Iggy’s bun as opposed to the traditional French Quarter-style loaf. The cauliflower filling is very lightly battered and a tad under-seasoned, although it maintains a gentle crispiness and cleverly mimics a fried oyster—a smart vegan spin on a bivalve. A creamy remoulade, used liberally, packs a mighty punch and makes this Po’ boy a success. An out of season tomato feels like it should be required but it doesn’t bring much to the table, and slices of sweet pickle are ultra sweet on their own, but provide thoughtful balance when paired with the peppery heat of the remoulade.
While there is probably more bread on this sandwich than there needs to be, this ultimately doesn’t deter from this lighter, modernized nod to New Orleans. Herbed french fries are among the best anywhere; dusted with fresh herbs and seasoned with the proper amount of salt, they are flawless. They’re accompanied by a beautiful homemade ketchup that’s spiked with molasses and bound by tomato paste, it’s better than the bottled stuff in every way imaginable.
Put your pretense behind and just enjoy Root for what it is: a fresh, relatively lighter take on the world of sandwiches. There are no aces up their sleeve, just a clear focus on what tastes right, something they are thankfully fully able to achieve.
487 Cambridge St, Allston. Info: 617-208-6091, rootboston.com