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Upscale Market Merchant Roots Unveils Fine Dining Dinner Parties

Where dashi bubbles like lava and dessert arrives on a tree branch

Amanda Lynn/Merchant Roots

Since it opened last year, Merchant Roots has billed itself as both an artisanal food market and a fine dining restaurant — the latter portion has taken a while to come to fruition, but it’s finally here. The Table at Merchant Roots is now taking reservations for its artistic dinner parties in the Fillmore.

As the name suggests, The Table is an intimate experience, with just eight seats around one table in the back of the market. Three nights a week, chef Ryan Shelton, formerly of Michelin-starred Baumé, presents a nine-course tasting menu for $110 (plus $75 for wine pairings) under a theme. The first menu, “Elements,” is inspired by the elements and celestial bodies of the universe — think air, fire, stars, and the sun. The menus will transform quarterly into something dramatically different, as the theme doesn’t just reveal itself in the food but also the custom ceramics, plating, and service. Future renditions might include “Gods and Heroes,” “Colors,” and “Mermaid,” according to wine director and partner Madison Michael. (For “Mermaid,” every ingredient will come from the ocean.)

Amanda Lynn/Merchant Roots

For “Elements,” one stand-out course is Salt. Nori-buttered octopus, cured trout roe, and “charcoal lava rock” (sponge cake Michael playfully describes, “squid ink mug cake”) are arranged on a curved plate designed to mimic the sea floor. Custom-made by Berkeley ceramicist Kiyomi Koide, the plates feature a volcano-like center, from which dashi bubbles can erupt. The Fire course, meanwhile, sees dry-aged strip loin, sunchokes resembling coals, bone marrow, and leek ash on a piece of wood that Shelton torched until black. One of the dessert courses, Air, arrives with an elaborate setup of mossy tree branches, each carrying a white chocolate eggshell inside a tiny nest of baklava — then Shelton pours on rose-scented mist to blow through the trees. (See the full menu below.)

There are two seatings (6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, which start with a drink in the lounge so guests can mingle with fellow diners before the meal begins. Along with the open kitchen and cozy setting, it helps contribute to the lively, communal vibe. “We built Merchant Roots without walls so you can see what’s going on and we can all be part of this dinner party,” Shelton says.

Amanda Lynn/Merchant Roots
Amanda Lynn/Merchant Roots
Amanda Lynn/Merchant Roots
The Table
Patricia Chang

The Table at Merchant Roots | Elements Menu

moon milk sherbet rock, yuzu gel, olive oil dust

jasmine lychee clarification, mint oil, aloe, lilypad

nori-buttered octopus, crispy sea beans, charcoal lava rock, cured trout roe, dashi bubbles

shaved/poached baby vegetables, lavender pesto, crispy garlic root, mushroom soil, lavender dew

gold beet solini in beurre blanc, fermented habanero, sunflowers

dry-aged strip loin, sunchoke coals, bone marrow, crispy maitake mushrooms, red wine reduction, horseradish cream, leek ash

paciencia cheese, brioche beignet, membrillo, orion

cardamom poached pear, burnt meringue, orange-vanilla chantilly, pistachio gelato and crumble, baklava nest, white chocolate eggshell, rose air

mint-milk chocolate truffle, cotton candy

Merchant Roots

1365 Fillmore Street, , CA 94115 (530) 574-7365 Visit Website