Opening tonight (2 August), the project is being linked with the Sustainable Restaurant Association and is designed to raise awareness of the environmental and health benefits that come with eating less meat and more vegetables.
The shipping container restaurant will serve a regularly changing selection of small plates that make veg the star of the show. The menu includes mushroom, lentil, hen’s egg; tomato, salted cherry, ewe’s curd; and button mushroom, shallot, vinaigrette.
"People should eat less meat," says Eggleton, who also runs the Michelin-starred The Pony & Trap in nearby Chew Magna and two-strong fish and chip chain Salt & Malt. "We do creative things with vegetables at The Pony and grow a lot of our own, so why not bring that to a more casual restaurant? We have ten plates which are primarily veg, and then at the bottom where you'd usually have the sides we have small pieces of meat and fish."
Root's head chef will be Rob Howell, formerly the head chef of The Pony & Trap. His girlfriend Meg Oakley, who has also worked at Eggleton's well-regarded country pub, will join general manager Domhnaill Barnes to oversee front of house.
Eggleton says the design of the kitchen has not had to change dramatically. "When we originally designed the kitchen I had it in the back of my head that we might not always want it to be a fried chicken place. All we've had to do is replace our pressure fryer with a prep table."
Chicken Shed opened in October 2015. Eggleton says that the Harbourside restaurant performed well after a shaky start but that it had proved difficult to align a fast, low cost fried chicken restaurant with high welfare products.
"It's hard to get people to appreciate a high quality animal in that environment and - rather ironically - it's also hard to make great fried chicken with a bird that's had a good life and been allowed to run around. I am still looking for the perfect ethically-reared chicken for fried chicken and we still have the pressure cooker, so Chicken Shed as an idea is not dead."
Root is a collaboration with Bristol-based food organisation Eat Drink Bristol Fashion, of which Eggleton is a founding member.
“For many years it’s been an ambition to open a restaurant that puts vegetables front and centre on the menu and it is exciting to be able to do so as part of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion family," says Amelia Twine, Eat Drink Bristol Fashion operations director and board member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
“In short, vegetables are an amazing food source and there are so many wonderful dishes that we’ll be able to offer. We still love meat and we’ll still serve it, but by giving veg star billing and making meat the supporting cast, we hope to make people think a bit more about the food they’re eating, how it got on their plate and what impact it has on health.”