The word restaurant comes from the French verb restaurer, “to restore oneself.” When was the last time you left a restaurant feeling you had an experience that restored you? Probably not recently. The distinctive Rootstock may be just the solution.
Rootstock, a restaurant and bar in downtown Woodstock, is on the corner of Main Street and Towne Lake Parkway, the corner that originally housed the post office in the 1900s. For owners Anna and Sean Daily, Rootstock is like a second home: a place filled with character, great food and drinks, and friends. They have created the type of place they themselves would love to visit. It’s a place where you can revel in an expertly-prepared meal, small plate, or dessert while cordial bartenders craft you the perfect adult beverage.
As you enter Rootstock, inviting energy takes you in like a private club in a vintage movie. Large windows let the light from outside stream across the warm wood décor. As dusk falls on the city, streetlights illuminate the sidewalk and allow for great people-watching of the interesting people who stroll by.
Halfway through the main room seven buttery-soft leather chairs sit at a craftsman’s wooden bar tended by barkeeps of the old-school variety that learn your name and know their craft, including bar manager Alex Oakley.
To the right of the front entrance is an intriguing private dining room for up to eight guests. A wine cellar behind glass lines the back of the room. With its elegant wood dining table and warm ambiance, the room is the ultimate in sophisticated, comfortable style. A private spot where fond memories are made, the space is an ideal venue for a special birthday, business deal, or even a Valentine’s Day proposal dinner.
Beyond the host stand is a set of stairs, and what a surprise the upstairs space has for you!
As you climb the stairs, a left turn leads to an uncovered dining area and bar called Vintners Rooftop, which has the most magical 360-degree views of downtown Woodstock. The trendy seasonal perch offers the same food and bar menu as downstairs, plus live music and fresh air.
Beyond the rooftop entrance, the main staircase continues all the way up to another bar; this one with a modern, urban vibe and a white marble bar glowing from the light underneath it. The middle of the room features a smattering of tables. You have found the Listening Room. The design evokes the feeling of attending a private concert from the comfort of your own stylish dining room. Here Rootstock’s guests enjoy live music and stand up comedy sessions.
Recently Hayden was invited into Rootstock to enjoy some of the restaurant’s signature dishes and seasonal cocktails. First up, some mixology magic…
MENU SAYS: Sage Old Fashioned
HAYDEN SAYS: Speak easy as you indulge in this well-made old-fashioned—an unexpected wintry version of a classic far more complex and warming than expected. The smell of the smoked sage, the warmth of the rye mingling with the brightness of the orange—wow!
MENU SAYS: True to Our Roots Whiskey Sour
HAYDEN SAYS: I would never have thought to mix wine and bourbon, but in this cocktail with a red wine float, it works. The mere look of the drink makes me feel like I am treating myself. The cocktail is refreshing, unique, and a splash of summer all year long.
MENU SAYS: The Old Acquaintance
HAYDEN SAYS: This nostalgia-inspiring drink—a twist on the classic hanky panky cocktail created at the legendary Savoy Hotel in London in 1903—tastes like winter in a glass. Warm, spicy notes swirl with citrus to warm you from the toes up.
After all these cocktails, we had better move on to some food! Executive Chef AJ Jones enters the room and brings with her the enticing aromas of her culinary creations.
AJ recalls she was nine years old when her mother, Barb, was struggling with illness. A doer and a helper, AJ realized she could do her part by making meals. It turned out she had a flair for creative cooking. AJ continued with cooking throughout high school, and with her mother’s encouragement, she graduated from Atlanta’s Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. AJ describes her cooking by saying, “I am French-trained, southern at heart, and Native American-inspired.”
MENU SAYS: Roasted Octopus
HAYDEN SAYS: Roasted for twelve hours, the octopus is supple and flavorful. It swims in a sea of hazelnut romesco sauce accented with roasted cauliflower and a delightful surprise
of Peruvian teardrop peppers that burst like berries in your mouth. The dish is among several gluten-free options available on the Rootstock menu.
MENU SAYS: Goat Cheese Fondue
HAYDEN SAYS: The perfect starter, you’ll use a fluffy naan to spoon up the high-quality goat cheese, smoky sweet San Marzano tomato puree, and fresh herbs. Depending on the puree-to-goat-cheese ratio, each delicious bite tastes slightly different. The creamy texture elevates this shareable starter to a must-have.
MENU SAYS: Cast Iron Duck
HAYDEN SAYS: Duck is a dish that you in general you should not try to cook at home, so I leave it to the professionals, and wow! The professionals at Rootstock deliver a sumptuous duck with distinctive ingredients. I loved the mix of grilled apple and chayote. Chef AJ explains, “I like to take traditional ingredients and flip things on their head. Most chefs use a chocolate mole sauce; I used a white mole. Complex, but simple is how I like it.” The complex but simple dish is indeed velvety and satisfying. Bravo, AJ!
MENU SAYS: Bistro Steak
HAYDEN SAYS: There are some hungers that nothing but a hearty steak will satisfy. This steak is perfectly seasoned and cooked, with a savory blend of ravioli, Cipollini onions, peas, and mushrooms covertly tucked beneath the steak. Atop the homemade pillows of pasta filled with ricotta cheese and the eight-ounce cut of skirt steak, the bone-marrow butter is the magic ingredient that elevates the dish to extraordinary. Silky and flavorful, the bone-marrow butter wraps around each piece of steak to temper the earthiness of the meat.
MENU SAYS: Chocolate Tart
HAYDEN SAYS: Topped with fresh ripened strawberries, this delightful dessert features a delicate drizzle of creamy white chocolate sauce over gourmet chocolate. Rich, thick, and moist, it’s the perfect sweet ending to a marvelous meal.
Whether you are visiting Rootstock to attend a whiskey-tasting or wine-pairing, to enjoy a night out with friends and live music, or experience a hush-hush romantic evening on the rooftop, you will find it an incomparable experience in Cherokee County.
“Rootstock Restaurant and Bar is my favorite place in Woodstock. My husband, Claude, and I love sitting on the outdoor rooftop dining space enjoying small plates and drinking red wine.”
— Carla Cjaza, Canton
WINE & WHISKEY PAIRINGS
Chef AJ’s favorite event to cook for is a wine pairing night; she says, “Wine pairing nights are a great opportunity for me to really play and create brand new dishes. Working with the chosen wine taste profiles and the food that is in season really lets my imagination take over.”
Feeling more of a whiskey mood? You don’t need to switch to wine after your pre-dinner cocktail. Let the whiskey experts teach you how to drink a dram throughout an entire meal.
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