When chef Phillip Lopez opened Root in 2011, it quickly became one of New Orleans’ most ambitious restaurants. Lopez embraced the avant-garde cooking techniques that often seem more suited to a lab than a kitchen. His second restaurant, Square Root, reached even higher, with a $150, 16-course prix fixe menu as the only option. For his third act, Lopez will open a sandwich shop. Part & Parcel will take the last open space in the South Market District’s Paramount building. The CBD building’s other restaurant tenants include Willa Jean, Ursa Major and, in coming months, second locations of both Magasin and Company Burger.Read More
Root is a tasting menu restaurant with no tables, just a curved bar rimmed by 16 stools. The place settings face an open kitchen where cooking edges into the realm of pyrotechnic chemistry: a “magical” two-bite muffuletta built from brûlèed meringue and housemade ‘nduja, a lamb and tomato tartare starring plastic-looking crisps of black garlic, grouper draped in milk “skin.” These are just a few of the dozen or so dishes that highlighted an early fall meal at Square Root. The restaurant was founded to showcase the talents of chef and co-owner Phillip Lopez, who really has no local rival when it comes to molecular gastronomic achievement.Full Story
It’s the Incredible Edible Egg,” said Chef Phillip Lopez when I asked him to describe his favorite dish on the tasting menu at his brand new restaurant Square Root. “It’s a dessert, actually. We make an edible egg shell out of inverted alcohol sugar and fill it with toasted almond and caramel curd. We match the weight to an actual egg and then crack it in front of everyone. Even the shell is edible!”Read More
Square Root is what chef Phillip Lopez does for an encore. The follow up to Root, his highly acclaimed eatery in the Warehouse District, Square Root, is essentially a 16-seat chef’s table that crosses the theater of a la minute real time preparation with the science-meets-Escoffier of molecular gastronomy. There’s nothing else like it in town, the closest might be The Catbird Seat in Nashville, but foodies may be reminded of Alinea in Chicago or Mini Bar from Jose Andres, all places of avant-garde cooking that meets at the intersection of art and science.”Full Site
Root’s food requires explanation. That is one of the operating principles at the astonishing, inscrutable restaurant in the Lower Garden District. Its kitchen literally was built so that Phillip Lopez, its hyperactively talented chef, could expound. There are only 16 stools available at each Square Root seating, so Lopez’s audience is never large. It’s never far away from his act, either. The stools are arranged around a bar just a few feet from where the chef and his staff assemble the multi-course meals.”Full Story
Chef Phillip Lopez daringly introduced New Orleans to molecular gastronomy, and even locals set in their old ways were quick to appreciate his whimsical take on cuisine, from cigar box-smoked scallops to foie gras cotton candy with Pop Rocks. Root and Square Root are clearly the cutting edge of modern food in the Big Easy.”View Full Story
In a city that loves its past, Chef Phillip Lopez sees only the future. Root, his first restaurant, was equal parts science experiment and whimsy, with foie gras cotton candy and scallops smoked with Cohiba cigars. At Square Root, a tasting-menu-only place, he adds to the complexity (and the price). Stationed behind a wide counter wrapped around the open kitchen, Lopez himself serves the 12 to 15 courses, which despite the avant-garde techniques often draw soulfully on the chef’s Mexican-American heritage.” View Full Story
Square Root, a pricey, tiny, experimental diner “that’s like watching a food ballet… chefs with paintbrushes decorating your plate – awesome!” View Full Story
Square Root is without question unlike anything New Orleans has ever seen: an open kitchen fronted by 16 stools, the only seats in the house to witness Chef Phillip Lopez’s multi-course foray into performance art. More at Nola.com
Restaurant Rating ★★★★ The most innovative New Orleans restaurant in memory, Square Root can claim numerous other superlatives. The cooking procedures are beyond imaginative. Fried chicken is rendered as cotton candy, lobster is stuff inside itself, and liquid nitrogen transforms juices into fragile solids. The food is as delicious to eat as it is to think about. The Square Root concept is based largely on the molecular cuisine that became widely popular in Europe in the 2000s. Chef Phillip Lopez has as keen a sense for isolating the essential flavors of the ingredients as any other chef this side of the late Warren Leruth. Lopez is well versed in the legacy of the Creole kitchen, and his creations are relevant to local taste and ingredient traditions. If a diner can suspend the belief that this kind of culinary trickery is suspect, he will likely enjoy the unpredictable, entertaining food. I have a feeling that evolved versions of this concept may become an important part of the top-end dining scene around New Orleans in the coming years. To read more, subscribe to neworleanscitybusiness.com
It’s hard to walk into Root Squared and not want to move in immediately. This cocktail spot feels like the living room of an international sophisticate, say James Bond or, in his sexier moments, Sherlock Holmes. Like its physical space, Root Squared’s cocktail menu centers on an intriguing mix of the old and the new, the foreign and the local. Bartender Ian Clarke embodies the new level of sophistication found in the most recent wave of New Orleans bars. It’s a level of refinement that not only encourages experimentation but also reconciliation as many drinkers find themselves rediscovering alcohols they had previously sworn off as too harsh. View Full Story
“The stigma of New Orleans is that it’s a city of a thousand restaurants and only one menu, ” says Chef Phillip Lopez. At Square Root he cooks up ten surprise dishes right in front of diners. “Cooking is an art form and it’s very important for the guests to experience that, ” says Lopez “And so this is an opportunity for us to break down those barriers and really you’re sitting in the kitchen and you get to experience everything from start to finish.” View Full Story and Video
Square Root’s upstairs lounge Root Squared is a destination all its own. See why at Eater.com
Chef Phillip Lopez refuses to restrict his creativity to a certain genre, a specific method of preparation, or type of cuisine. Chef Lopez tries to balance his being “all over the place” with extreme discipline when it comes to the refinement of the dishes he creates. He changes the menu as much and as often as he can. “Once we feel that a dish is absolutely perfect, that’s when we take it off the menu,” explains Lopez. Every day we refine each dish. We plate, ‘What needs to change?’ And it’s not just me – everyone involved here is just as much a part of this food as I am.” Lopez hopes to nudge guests to explore more of what only Root and Square Root have to offer, increasing locals’ appetites for new experiences. “It’s our job to go far beyond. It’s our job to please.” More at Offbeat.com
Square Root attempts something new for New Orleans and rarely seen in any city: a restaurant where the only option is a lengthy chef’s tasting menu… The food at Square Root, despite the sly games and avant-garde tricks that play out over more than a dozen small courses, feels strangely grounded, whether in nostalgia or the purity of flavor coaxed from familiar ingredients. Lopez’s first restaurant was Root, which opened in 2011… With a sprawling and eclectic menu that embraced the ever-evolving techniques of molecular gastronomy, it established Lopez as one of New Orleans’ most ambitious chefs…View Full Story and Photo Gallery
Chef Phillip Lopez and his business partner Maximilian G. Ortiz created one of New Orleans most ambitious restaurants when they opened Root in November 2011. Lopez built a menu conversant in the most cutting edge techniques but grounded in flavors from around the globe. Their second project, Square Root, aims even higher. On Wednesday (April 16), NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune will profile Lopez and offer a video peek at his new restaurant. Next week, after it opens, we’ll visit and tell you what to expect from a night at Square Root. For now, here are five things you need to know about Square Root… More
Restaurant watchers have been looking forward for quite some time to Root chef Phillip Lopez’s forthcoming project Square Root. Eater NOLA writes that the concept here “is pretty revolutionary” in the local dining scene as one of the few tasting-menu-only restaurants out there. Square Root has 16 seats wrapped around an open kitchen, plus a small cocktail-focused bar upstairs. More at Eater.com
The Big Easy Does It – For all New Orleans’s famous foodiness – the jambalaya, the po’boys, the preeminent beignets – it’s surprising that there’s no gastronome-guided tasting restaurant in town. That’s changing with the opening of Square Root, which will serve 12-course menus of conceptual bites like the dessert pictured, a “Jasmine Dondurma” consisting of Turkish-style ice cream fast-frozen with liquid nitrogen and served with toasted almond caraway cake, mango pico de gallo, and a dash of savory shiso on top. A mouthful, eh? That’s just the tip of the liquid-nitrogen iceberg at Square Root, which is the sister restaurant to chef Phillip Lopez’s lauded year-old Root. But don’t let the dehydrators and smokers fool you: Lopez is all NOLA at heart. “The Creole and smoked flavors are so local, and we’re using them – but in an enhanced, exciting new way,” says Lopez, whose goal is to draw attention to the food revolution happening here. “It’s like the Wild West, being a chef in New Orleans right now,” he says. “The greatest culinary energy and creativity is below the Mason-Dixon Line”
Is there a young New Orleans chef with more ambition that Phillip Lopez? At Root, his menu ranges from Indian aloo gobi to scallops smoked with Cohiba cigars. His charcuterie selection, with everything from Spanish blood sausage to “face bacon,” could stock a butcher shop. And he effortlessly incorporates all those cutting-edge techniques that Escoffier could have never imagined. With Square Root, his second restaurant, Lopez will do even more. “Root is fun and playful and we don’t want to lose that,” Lopez said. “But Square Root is the grown-up version.” Today Lopez moved one step closer to opening when he took the keys for 1800 Magazine St., the former location of the Shop of Two Sisters and the future home of Square Root. The downstairs at Square Root will be an open kitchen surrounded by a 15- to 18-seat bar. Every inch of the kitchen will be on view for the diners. The only option downstairs at Square Root will be a nine-to-10-course tasting menu. Eventually Lopez hopes to expand that menu to 15 courses. Upstairs, a bar and lounge area will offer small plates and an expanded version of Root’s charcuterie menu. Lopez will also make five cheeses in house.
By successfully launching a restaurant, Root, and with another on the way, Square Root, Chef Phillip Lopez has demonstrated his ambition, creativity, and prowess in the kitchen. But Phillip is happiest when cooking hearty meals for his family. The proud New Orleanian recalls his culinary learning experiences and offers advice to home cooks. Following his position as executive chef at Restaurant Rambla, Phillip established Root, which he describes as “fun, playful, and uninhibited.” his second restaurant, Square Root, is the grown-up version of Root – refined and technically driven. Square Root features an open kitchen, allowing diners to get a glimpse of the cooks in action. “We want to show that we’re not only cooks. We are teachers who explain what we’re doing.” Since 98 percent of his produce comes from within a 60-mile radius, Phillip’s evolving menu is based on the seasonal crops coming out of the ground. “We have these huge farms that have decided that a carrot is supposed to be orange and a tomato is supposed to be red,” Phillip says. “In a truly natural environment, these crops grow in different colors.” As a chef, Phillip likes to push the boundaries. He believes that the ability to think outside the box motivates other chefs. “It starts with one little movement, one kinetic force,” he says. And this movement is building momentum, carrying Louisiana’s diverse cuisine into the top tiers of the national culinary scene. When he isn’t concocting clever dishes at his restaurants, Phillip prepares meals for his family. “What I cook at home is the simplest stuff,” he says. “It makes me happy.” He whips up such items as white bean casserole, roasts, and grilled steaks. Phillip encourages home cooks to have fun in the kitchen. “Cook from the heart,” he says. “It’s not about crazy techniques or expensive machines. It’s about the ambition to try.” But learning the basics comes first. While cooking at El Bulli in Spain, he asked the chefs so many questions that he was told to slow down. “It was like meeting the Dalai Lama,” he jokes. “I have all of these questions. And they have all the answers. I just want to know!” Phillip’s mentors reminded him that they have trained, practiced, experimented, failed and tried again. And again. Phillip also suggests trying something new. When making Spaghetti Bolognese, for example, use squid ink pasta with purple pepper Bolognese. The finished product features an assortment of bold colors, rather than a standard red meat sauce over white pasta. Willingness to step into uncharted territory leads to his most important piece of advice. “Do not be afraid,” he says. “Once you get comfortable with not being afraid, then you can experiment more and more.”
We are honoring Maximilian Ortiz in this issue for his work at Root, the restaurant he and chef Phillip Lopez operate in the Warehouse District. The two are set to open a second restaurant early next year, and it promises to be one of the most interesting debuts of 2013. They are calling it Square Root (1800 Magazine Street), and Lopez described it to me as the “grown-up” version of their first venture. There will be 15 or so seats around an entirely open kitchen on the first floor, and a tasting menu of around a dozen small courses will be the only option. Reservations will essentially be required, both because of the small number of seats and to allow diners to alert the chef to any food allergies well in advance of the meal. Lopez plans to offer pairings of wine, beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic pairings with the food. The second floor will feature a more casual, a la carte menu of charcuterie and small plates, and will have lounge-like seating. This is an ambitious plan, but Lopez is an ambitious chef. He said he wants no less than to garner attention from the Michelin guide, something no restaurant in New Orleans has done to date. As I write, Lopez and Ortiz haven’t decided on a price for the tasting menu, but I would expect it to be a bargain compared to what you’d pay at restaurants in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles for the same sort of tasting-menu approach. I am a huge fan of Root, so I’ll be there to see what Lopez and his crew can pull off.
The owner of Warehouse District restaurant Root plans to execute the second phase of his business plan by expanding to 1800 Magazine St., which previously housed Shop of the Two Sisters. Nicholas Shay, through his ownership entity, Shay Holdings LLC, purchased the 3,700-square-foot building in November 2011, around the same time he opened Root on Julia Street, with the intent of turning it into Square Root. The new establishment, will actually be two restaurants. For downstairs, he plans a concept in which the chef works in full view of a limited number of patrons who will sit at a wraparound, stainless steel bar. Diners will choose from a dozen or more pre-planned, tapas-style dishes with a range of international influences. Upstairs will specialize in homemade sausages and cheeses, as well as small plates. Shay is still working through city permitting, including obtaining a conditional-use permit in advance of a liquor license.
….Just as new parts of town are growing into restaurant destinations, the types of new restaurants are different – from New York-style slices at Pizza Delicious, a former pop-up that went fulltime last month; to Root, a yearling in the Warehouse District where chef Phillip Lopez prepares highly conceptual cuisine in a kitchen loaded with high-tech gear like dehydrators and sous vide cookers. Lopez, a New Orleans native, says he opened Root in response to the stagnation he felt at traditional restaurants here. He believes a craving for new culinary ideas is propelling new restaurant growth. “I see it as a changing of the guard,” he says. “There’s been a reset button. People are changing the way our restaurants operate and what they do.” Lopez believes the post-Katrina influx of people from around the country is helping accelerate changes in the restaurant scene – and he thinks that’s an important part of keeping New Orleans cuisine relevant. Lopez and his business partners plan to open a second, higher-reaching restaurant in the Lower Garden District early next year. The new place, Square Root, will serve multi-course tasting menus exclusively. “It’s about making sure the food scene in New Orleans is everlasting,” Lopez says. “A lot of restaurants in town now are forward-looking.”