Seriously Southern

Posted On March 8, 2022

The Root Cellar in Lexington is serious about Southern cuisine

By Katie Gantt

The Root Cellar in Lexington is a fast-casual restaurant focused on Southern cuisine. Don’t let the laid-back, rustic farmhouse atmosphere deceive you. They are serious about food and using the best ingredients, which means fresh and sourcing locally whenever possible. Blair and Ashley Sims opened the Lexington location at 420 Columbia Ave in 2016 and have since opened a second in Batesburg. Blair is a frequent, friendly face at both, making his rounds at rush hour catching up with his regular guests.

Their classic meat and three-style lunches are a big draw. Monday is pork chop day, Tuesday is jumbo fried shrimp, Wednesday is meatloaf, Thursday is smothered country fried steak, and Friday is fried flounder. The list of sides is extensive, but some familiar favorites include the sweet potato casserole, rice and gravy, sauteed Brussel sprouts, macaroni and cheese, fried okra, sea island red peas, and collard greens – not the canned variety. At lunch, the full dinner menu is also available.

There are some star appetizers in the lineup. Try the Southern Egg Rolls – house-made pimento cheese and pulled pork, rolled in a spring roll, lightly fried, and served with Root Cellar BBQ sauce. Simple but effective, the basket of fried okra appetizer comes with a side of house-made ranch dressing for dipping. And what is a serious Southern menu without fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs? Find them both as apps at the Root Cellar.

Moving on to sandwiches, the Blackened Catfish BLT keeps them coming back – lightly blackened catfish, crispy bacon, green leaf lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and Root Cellar tartar sauce. Their burgers are undeniably some of the best on this side of the Lake Murray dam. The Root Cellar is their signature burger. It’s a 10-ounce ground chuck patty topped with goat cheese and a fried green tomato on a buttered brioche bun. The goat cheese takes it over the top.

Entrees are served with a salad and the choice of one side. Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a top seller. The marinated double lobe chicken breast is fried golden brown and served on Keisler’s Mill yellow grits with white gravy. The shrimp and grits are in a Tasso cream sauce, the filet is Stockyard Angus, and the Sterling Silver Ribeye is perfectly aged and cut in-house.

The wine list is small but carefully curated, and the same can be said for desserts. Carrot cake and banana pudding pound cake come highly recommended.

Six years in, the Root Cellar is an established staple on the Lexington food scene. Previously, the building housed Stephano’s, a family-owned Italian restaurant that opened in 1977. When Stephano’s closed, Blair seized the opportunity to secure an excellent and central location right on the main drag. His move has paid off, and Lexington is grateful for consistently excellent and fresh food, that locally owned vibe, and accessible menu prices.