Root Down

December 29 2008, 10:26 AM
If it seems like most of the dining news is coming from Highland these days, that's because the recent openings of Venue, Shazz Cafe and Bar, El Camino, and Root Down are proof of a restaurant scene on fire. Best of the bunch thus far is Justin Cucci's Root Down, which officially opened in a refabbed 1950s service station a couple weeks ago. The spot's globally inspired cuisine comes courtesy of executive chef Ryan Leinonen (formerly of The Kitchen). Look for fire-roasted tomato and peanut soup; smoked portobello, leek, and mascarpone wontons; and Spanish Caesar salad with frozen Xeres vinegar. The menu is decidedly--and deliciously--veggie-focused but also stars sustainable meats and fish (don't miss the grilled Harris Ranch beef tenderloin or the ahi tartare with flamed pappadams). Bonus: Arrive early for your reservation, grab a drink at the bar, and ogle the mid-century modern decor. Note reclaimed items such as the bowling alley floor that makes up the bar top and the private dining room decorated in tin can tops. 1600 W. 33rd Ave., 303-993-4200