Rood Food + Pie: Dine with PressureLife
The COVID-19 pandemic was a rude awakening for restaurants across the Cleveland area. While some businesses have struggled to change their approach, one business knew it was time for a Rood reawakening.
Rood Food and Pie, located at 17001 Madison Ave, Lakewood, originally caught our attention for its menu of gourmet sliders and pies that encouraged communal-style dining. Of course, the restaurant tabled that approach early on in 2020 to adopt a new brunch and lunch menu. After a nine-month delay, Rood returned to the local dinner scene in December with a new menu of, well, food and pie. The PressureLife crew made the trip to Rood to see if the new menu is as promising as Ruthsatz’s original vision.
What we ate:
Each dish is rated 1-5 by each team member. This is the mean score:
- Southern Nachos with Soul Chili: 3
- Dry Rubbed Brisket: 5
- Rood Chick: 5
- Drunken Chicken + Rice: 4
- Cajun Smoked Cheddar Biscuit: 4.5
- Whiskey Chocolate Pie: 4
- Eggnog Cream Pie: 1.5
- Knife + Fork Chicken Sammy: 4
- Andouille In Cream Sauce: 4
- Apple Pear Bourbon Walnut Pie: 3.5
- Cognac Pumpkin Pie: 4.5
Well, I was skeptical. Do I always say that? I’ve truly been wanting to love Rood Food + Pie since their opening in 2018. With their cute AF pink neon lights, living plant walls, RV camper bar and marquis sign decor, they are an Instagram-influencer’s dream backdrop. The restaurant is also perfectly located right in one of the only tiny pockets of Madison Avenue that isn’t flooded with a bunch of great places to eat, so they’ve certainly grabbed the neighborhood’s attention.
I’ve tried Rood twice before, once in the earlier days of their slider-based menu and again in peak of the quarantine when they changed to a breakfast-only format. Neither really did it for me, but I suppose the third time’s a charm. The revamped menu, which I guess you can describe as a modern take on southern soul food, is an absolute home run.
There’s a number of items I would love to go back and try that we didn’t order, but their perfectly executed, not-too-greasy fried chicken sandwich, the Rood chick, and the dry rubbed brisket sandwich were instant favorites. The drunken chicken and rice, which is what I would define as a New Orleans-esque Chipotle bowl, was rich and flavorful and came with a cajun smoked cheddar biscuit that would actually embarrass the hell out of Red Lobster. While the eggnog cream pie wasn’t exactly my favorite, I spent the next three or four days enjoying bites of the whiskey chocolate pie (and I’ll be back for the highly acclaimed salt and honey pie). I was happy to see the volume of takeout orders being picked up from there and hope that anyone who might not have immediately been sold on Rood gives them another go. 4.5/5
I’ve been known to enjoy some Rood in the past, but some foods handle the takeout treatment better than others. Simply put, Rood travels well. Despite an exciting journey from Lakewood to my house – along with an impromptu photoshoot as requested by Hannah – the food held up well aside from a single bun sticking to a container.
More importantly, everything was delicious. Of the items we ordered, there wasn’t a single dish that wouldn’t be under serious consideration for future visits. The knife and fork chicken sammy came deconstructed in takeout form, but each element held up on it’s own (and tasted darn good combined as well). Honestly, my favorite part may have been the Cajun smoked cheddar biscuits. The delightful pillows of flavor were delightfully crispy on the outside and oh, so soft on the inside. I’d seriously go back just to get an order of these biscuity bad boys. The dry rubbed brisket and curry bun were as good as I remembered. Finally, the andouille in cream sauce turned out to be surprisingly light, making for a nice change of pace from the biscuits, bacon, beef, and fried chicken.
Of course, no Rood trip is truly complete without pie. I’m a noted fan of the salt and honey, but we opted to try out the cognac pumpkin and apple pear bourbon walnut pies. I’m usually a sucker for a good apple pie, but the pumpkin was my favorite of the two. The cognac added a nice warm burn to accompany the clove and ginger notes that spiced up this seasonal treat. All in all, Rood made a welcome return to Lakewood’s dinner scene. 4.5/5
I’ve been a big fan of Rood since Brian Ruthsatz opened it – it’s in walking distance to me, so I frequent it quite often. When the sliders and shareables were brought to a halt because of COVID-19, I was pretty bummed. I miss pairing the slaws and meats! A few months later, Rood released its new biscuit and brunch concept, which was also delicious. Recently, Rood released a new menu that combined biscuits and brunch items with some new entrees and shareables.
I look at this new menu as Rood 3.0. There’s a reason the brisket and fried chicken are on the menu a few different times. Holy crap, the brisket with the horseradish sour cream and slaw is amazing. Whatever love they put into that fried chicken is unreal as well. If anything, make sure you get the Rood chick or the brisket – you can thank me later. The drunken chicken and rice felt and tasted like a cold Sunday night family dinner. Full of spice and salt, it was definitely a comforting dish, although I couldn’t finish a full bowl of it. However, that cajun smoked cheddar biscuit? Give me 10 of them. The chili nachos were fine, but I probably wouldn’t order that again. All and all Brian and his team at Rood continue to impress. I can’t wait for another transformation as they continue to change the game. 4.5/5
Rood Food + Pie has always had my interest. Now it has my attention. This is my third go on their third go of menu transformations. And you know what they say about threes and how perfect they are: company (great show), musketeers, times & charms, and pigs – which is what I felt like that night.
The southern nachos with soul chili came out first, so I’ll start there. Everyone else at the table felt the heat, but I didn’t. It had a sweetness, but not in a bad way. Add in a side of sour cream and you’ll be sittin’ pretty. With a perfect ratio from beans to meat to veg, all atop firm tortilla chips that held up, this shareable was a nice way to start a dinner. The three main courses came out and once I had a taste of each, I had to remind myself I was at a food tasting with other people and to not eat like George Costanza over a plate of spaghetti.
The brisket was meaty, smoky, full of flavor. Perhaps my favorite part of the entire night was the slaw. Mayo-based, but not too mayoey – it was tangy and sweet and had a touch of what seemed like dill. It was a great side to complement both the brisket and the Rood chick, or just eat it on its own. Speaking of the Rood chick, get that. Get it twice. In one night. The drunken chicken and rice was like me: dense and drunken. The shredded chicken and cajun spices soaked up by perfectly cooked rice makes this a perfect comfort food. It’s that easy. It’s also easy to say I’m going back soon. 4/5