Rooted Rotisserie, a French-inspired restaurant across from Hollins Market in Southwest Baltimore, fully embraces the theme of family.

In the main dining room, Chef Joseph and Amanda Burton, husband and wife owners of the restaurant, decorated with pictures of their relatives at weddings, posing for portraits and eating at their kitchen tables.

Rooted Rotisserie owners Joe and Amanda Burton stand in front of a wall of family photos at Rooted Rotisserie on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Baltimore. (Wesley Lapointe/for the Baltimore Banner)

A row of cookbooks on a shelf behind the bar belonged to Joseph’s aunt, who often took him to pick vegetables from plots she rented at Druid Hill Park.

The couple wants people who come to their restaurant to feel like family, too.

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Rooted Rotisserie, a new restaurant in the 1100 block of Hollins Street, wants to introduce people to elegant dishes. The Burtons are also very adamant about making the food experience accessible to all income levels with reasonable prices and a willingness to educate diners about the dishes.

“An elegant meal doesn’t have to consist of you putting on a suit and tie, your finest jewelry and spending hundreds of dollars a person to eat a meal,” Joseph said.

Joseph and Amanda Burton both attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and studied in the historically black university’s hospitality and tourism management program. After being furloughed from their jobs during the pandemic, they started making and selling soups and plated dinners.

A trip to Paris and the city’s Bastille Sunday market in 2021 inspired their French-style rotisserie concept.

For Joseph Burton, the chicken in Paris was some of the best he had ever tasted, and he was taken aback by its juiciness and flavor. The couple also loved the community feel and how people of all ages interacted at the market as they enjoyed homemade goods. They wanted to bring the welcoming vibe and rotisserie chicken back to Baltimore.

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“We just felt like when you think of French in America or on the East Coast, it just feels like it has to be up, up, up. I feel like with the French vibe, it’s just very much [about] authenticity, like just the realness and good quality,” Amanda Burton said.

One major contributor to the quality of the restaurant, the Burtons believe, is the Rotisol oven in the remodeled kitchen. The oven’s manufacturer is headquartered in France, but Joseph and his wife bought one from a seller in New York for cheaper than market price.

Joseph lights up brighter than the oven’s flames when talking about the way it rotates the chickens just enough so the fat drips precisely onto each row of meat. And the way they can adjust how close the chickens are to the flame in the back of the oven.

The French-style rotisserie oven at Rooted Rotisserie is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Baltimore. (Wesley Lapointe/for the Baltimore Banner)

Though the Paris trip inspired the rotisserie style chicken, there are hints of other cuisines on the menu, which Joseph seasonally tweaks. The spicy pepper sauce was created after a trip to Liberia. A lemonade option is made with soursop, a tropical fruit.

There’s also more than just whole and half chicken options on their one-page menu. Popular items include coddies, fried codfish cakes with yellow mustard on saltines, a meal Joseph and his mother had on Sundays when he was growing up. There’s also the smoked mushroom bowl with basmati rice, crispy Brussels sprouts and black garlic dressing. They make all their dipping sauces in-house: black garlic dressing, white truffle aioli, spicy pepper and chicken demi-glace.

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The Burtons understand their food might be new to people, so they make themselves available to explain their offerings without passing judgement.

“People are really appreciative that we’re here, doing what we’re doing. We’re not, like, snobby,” Joseph said, adding that it melts his heart to see the restaurant establishing regulars.

The Rooted Rotisserie dining and bar areas are seen on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Baltimore. (Wesley Lapointe/for the Baltimore Banner)

Bif Browning, a Union Square resident and president of its community association, comes to Rooted Rotisserie every Friday with his wife, and they’re often joined by other couples in the neighborhood. They wanted to make sure the restaurant was supported and enjoy that it’ll mix up the food scene in the community.

“It’s nice to have something that is a different option in the neighborhood and I like that it has that kind of small bistro feel,” Browning said.

Browning added that he appreciates going in for a formal event or casually, and to be able to afford to go every week because of the prices. “It’s very loved by the neighborhood,” he said adding that they’re also starting to see people from all over Baltimore stop in for a bite.

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Laura Dykes, president of Hollins Roundhouse Neighborhood Association, said she can’t say enough good things about the new restaurant, which she says is a “go-to” for special occasions and when she wants to splurge. Dykes thinks Rooted Rotisserie is adding to the other “forward-thinking” restaurants in the area, including Primo’s Chicken on West Lombard Street and Neopol Savory Smokery in the 800 block of Hollins Street.

“I just want more of them … the more businesses, the better,” Dykes said.

The Burtons are also residential neighbors to the restaurant and visitors from the community. They live nearby with their 10-month-old son Aari, who they predict will start walking any day now. They have a staff of fewer than a dozen people for a restaurant that seats about 50 people. Someday, they’d like to be less involved in the day-to-day management, but for now they’re all-in and ready to welcome everyone.

“This place is for you. You can come. Just come. We will make you feel at home,” Amanda said.