Helping Hands

An owner's guide to Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar

Humboldt Park's gastronomic score increased exponentially in May. It gets the extra points for biodynamic wine, small-production beer and local ingredients–all thanks to Rootstock.

The two-month-old bar is helmed by three Webster's alumni–Jamie McLennan, Tonya Pyatt and Johnny Hap–each of whom brought something different (wine, beer, art, business) to the table. Remy Ayesh (ex-Spiaggia) runs the kitchen, and various industry friends pitched in a wine recommendation here and a recipe there to round it all out.

Given the talent and knowledge of the lineup, we decided to relinquish free will and let McLennan and Pyatt pick their favorite pairings. We suggest you do the same, and follow their "best-of" tour of Rootstock's offerings:

Start by pairing a glass of Quenard Vin de Savoie ($7)–a light, crisp biodynamic wine from Chignin (a region famous for white wine)–with two cheeses: O'Bannon goat cheese (wrapped in bourbon-soaked chestnut leaves, $4) and Kunik, a cow's- and goat's-milk double cream ($4).

Next, try Brooklyn Brewery's Cuvée de Cardoz (a limited-release Indian-spiced wheat beer crafted with Tabla chef Floyd Cardoz, $7) with a pile of fried smelts, fried lemon and chimichurri-topped aioli.

To finish, the Domaine Mercouri Vin des Letinon, a juicy red from Greece ($8.50), is excellent with an equally juicy burger of grass-fed beef topped with bacon-chive aioli and cheddar (though Cognac lamb sausage, from the same sausage maker that supplies Hot Doug's, pairs nicely too).

Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar, 954 N. California Ave.; 773-292-1616 or rootstockbar.com