Pre-race brunch: IndyCar driver turned restaurant partner James Hinchcliffe takes us inside Root & Bone in SoBro

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS– James Hinchcliffe has quite the resume: he’s a fan favorite IndyCar driver, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, Dancing with the Stars runner up, TV announcer, podcaster and, as of last January, restaurant partner for Root & Bone — located near 46th and College Avenue in SoBro.  

But how does a Canadian guy end up bringing –of all things– a southern style restaurant to his adopted hometown of Indianapolis?  

We met up with the Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport driver to find out for ourselves and to share some of his favorite items on the menu.  

Buckle up and pack your appetite for this trip In Your Neighborhood

Photo credit: Nicki Kollar, Dune Peak Photography

“Most people would tell you to do whatever you can to avoid getting into the restaurant business if I’m totally honest,” said James Hinchcliffe.

Still, the IndyCar driver-turned-restaurant partner felt pretty positive about his decision to get involved in bringing Root & Bone to Indy.

It didn’t hurt to know chef Jeff McInnis and his wife, Janine Booth — both James Beard Award-nominated chefs and Top Chef alums– were at the helm.  

Chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis (Photo credit: Root & Bone Facebook page)

“When you meet the right people, it’s amazing how that kind of changes your perspective on things,” he explained. “And I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, obviously.”

The food is described as southern with a gourmet twist — in a comfortable atmosphere.

“You come in here and you don’t feel like you have to wear a three piece suit and a cocktail gown to come out to dinner,” Hinchcliffe said. “But at the same time, the quality of food you’re getting is like Manhattan top-star restaurant sort of program. I think [General Manager] Robert [Ortenzio] and his staff here have done a great job at building that atmosphere, building that culture. ”

Photo credit: Carrie Prohl

Some of their most popular items include the drunken devilled eggs, braised short rib meatloaf, shrimp and grits, mac and cheese and Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits, which are made according to Chef McInnis’ family recipe.

“I’ve had some very hardcore southerners come up and try the biscuits and say [they are] ‘better than grandma makes down south,” he noted.

Then, there’s the signature fried chicken brined in sweet tea.

Photo credit: Nicki Kollar, Dune Peak Photography

“It’s super tender and they have this honey Tabasco sauce that goes with it,” Hinchcliffe said of the flavor. “I don’t know who came up with that but he deserves some kind of award.”

If you want to emulate Hinch’s ultimate Root & Bone supper spread, he says it’s got to include the ribs.

“For me, they’re the best ribs I’ve ever had. They just fall off the bone. So tender, so flavorful… Great spread with them,” he said. “So, if I walked in tonight and it was time to order, it’d be the biscuits, the ribs and any of the desserts. Or all of the desserts, depending on how you want to do it.”

Photo credit: Nicki Kollar, Dune Peak Photography

During racing season, though, he admits he can’t treat himself to all the comfort foods as much as he’d like.

“I definitely indulged a bit during quarantine getting takeout and going home with Becky (his wife),” he noted. “Being in season makes it tougher for sure but there are great healthy dishes as well. The salmon is one of my favorites and chicken under a brick is a great dish.”

However, if he can get the No. 29 car in victory lane at this year’s Indy 500, all bets are off.

Photo credit: Root Bone Facebook page

“Can you dunk biscuits into milk? Is that a thing? Maybe we should start it,” Hinchcliffe said with a laugh. “Let me just win Indy then I’ll want to grab one of Daisy’s biscuits, dip it and I’ll let you know how it goes.”

Four Things You Need to Know About Root & Bone:

  • Root & Bone was founded by husband-and-wife chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth (both previously appeared on the TV show “Top Chef”). They have locations in New York City and Miami, FL. In 2020, Jeff and Janine joined forces with IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe and Tom Collins to bring Root & Bone to Indianapolis. In January of 2020, they officially opened their location in SoBro at 4601 N. College Avenue.
  • Hinchcliffe describes the food as, “Southern food with that kind of gourmet twist to it.” Whenever possible, they strive to offer farm-to-table local ingredients that change seasonally. Some of their most popular dishes include their signature fried chicken brined in sweet tea, braised short rib meatloaf, shrimp and grits, drunken devilled eggs, mac and cheese and Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits (which are made from chef Jeff McInnis’ old family recipe). They offer a full bar daily as well as bottomless mimosas during Sunday brunch.
  • The restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner (or as they call it, “supper”) as well as brunch from 10 a.m. -4 p.m., followed by supper until 9 PM on Sundays. And every day of the week, you can enjoy a drink from their full bar inside or out on the patio.  
  • If you’re on the go, Root & Bone offers family style meals for up to four people as well as “Favorites for One” on their carry-out menu

For more information about Root & Bone, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out the restaurant’s Yelp profile. You can also connect on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

To keep up with James Hinchcliffe throughout the month of May and beyond, you can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

While in SoBro, check out these other local hot spots nearby:

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