Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rootstock Wine and Beer Bar

So when I invited a friend to go with me to check out this new-ish wine bar in the Humboldt Park section of Chicago, I really had to convince her! She was actually conjuring up visions of Woodstock and hippies just from the name! Guess she's not groovy enough to hang with hippies (hee-hee). Anyway, she finally gave in and met me there last evening.

It turns out that it's a very cool spot for sipping great wine, beer and munching on great noshes. The place is tiny (only 50 seats) and I really love that because for me, it reminded me of my hometown, Brooklyn, NY, where every space is tiny but cozy nonetheless. We decided to sit at the bar. This is where I like to sit so I can get a good look at the action!

They offer about 15-20 wines by the glass and a reserve list of around 65 bottles, which are global, affordable and from small producers. Some are bio-dynamic, some organic. Well you get the picture. There are craft beers as well (mostly of Belgian and American craft -Malheur, Great Lakes Grassroots Ale, Coney Island Albino Python, etc).

We were fortunate enough to have one of the owners tending the bar. He guided us with his expert knowledge to an excellent wine from Greece- 2005 Domaine Mercouri Refosco/Mavrodaphne Vin des Letinon Greece~it had a nice fully body and was oh- so-smooth (and very reasonably priced too!). I have had several wines from Greece lately that have been outstanding. He told us that it is very hard to find this wine so lucky for us, we were in the right place at the right time for once!

And now for my favorite part: the food! First, we sampled the Citrus and Garlic Marinated Olives. They are made in house and were yummy too! We ordered the Charcuterie and Cheese Plate that had a selection of 3 cheeses and 3 meats (above is a very fuzzy picture taken with my I Phone). There was House made chicken liver pate w/ pink peppercorns, La Quercia “green label” dry cured Proscuitto and La Quercia “Italian style” copa with paprika & cocoa rind. There were two goat cheeses and one sheep's milk cheese, and an assortment of housemade jams, (cherries in port wine for one) and grainy mustard. Have to have mustard for the pate which by the way, was amazing!! The couple that sat next to us, actually ordered the same thing we had! Guess we have good taste?? Food that is great for sharing is what I am all about!

We then decided to be bad and get what they call "Crusts" which are Naan Bread topped with either Braised fennel & buttered leeks, oven dried grape tomato, pesto cheddar & citronette mezclun greens, La Quercia Proscuitto, orange blossom honeyed melon, arugula, shiso & house ricotta, or Bourbon glazed market mushrooms, Vivace cheese, purple market beans. We settled on the braised fennel and buttered leek. A very generous portion and only $8.00. Can't beat it. Really can't.

I believe this will be my new favorite place to go for when I am in the mood for comforting food, good wine and great conversation! There is a lot more on the food list that I will have to try so I really do need to return again and again~ they are always changing the menu to reflect what is seasonal. Oh, and by the way....not a hippie in sight!

Rootstock Wine and Beer Bar
954 North California Avenue • Chicago, Illinois 60622

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