The weirdest thing about Lopezís bresaola is not that he uses lamb tenderloin instead of beef to make it. Itís not even that the lamb is cured with chocolate and espresso, turning it the color of an overcast sky at midnight, or that the slices are painted with a viscous mixture that includes both sweet and spicy pimentůn, Mexican chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The sweet bitter elements balanced one another out in a way that caused Lopezís ďbresaolaĒ to somehow taste more like bresaola than traditional bresaola. Such tricks are the hallmark of molecular gastronomy, the hyper technique-driven school of modernist cuisine Lopez had a chance to study in Spain with some of its leading practitioners. Another hallmark, at least in my experience, is that molecular gastronomyís deepest impressions are made in those moments when you think creativity canít be stretched any further ó and then it is.
At Root, this means that the bresaola, which we ordered to give us something to nibble on while perusing the menu, was preceded by two amuse bouche. One of them, a mind-mending duo of tortellini piped with spiced mascarpone and submerged in smoked chicken broth, incorporated fennel fronds manipulated into multiple forms. This included a powder sprinkled over the dish to, in Lopezís words, ďgive it that sort of tree frog look.Ē
The dish was consumed in less than 30 seconds. And the meal, technically speaking, hadnít even started.
Best bets: Charcuterie and salumi ($8 each); pickled shrimp and deviled eggs ($14); fennel-orange shrimp bisque ($10); smoked cornmeal encrusted oysters ($13); coriander-scented Gulf fish ($22); black-tea smoked chicken ($20); Cohiba-smoked scallops ($24); Meyer lemon trio ($8).