by Tallahassee Table

Rootstock Pours & Plates, Tallahassee’s newest venue, is part lounge, part restaurant. The setting is intimate, relaxing with just a shot of Mad Men swagger. A touch of brick, bold art and teal accents add warmth to a setting that’s contemporary in an old-fashioned way.

Overall, this cozy space looks like a hit. The owners of Andrew’s Downtown — Andrew Reiss and Paul and Susan Roth — have transformed the site, formerly Andrew’s Second Act and Andrew’s 228, into a location that’s comfortable yet classy. There are few places like this anymore in Tallahassee with the departure of 319 Wine & Cheese and the upcoming closure of The Wine Loft.

To enter, you walk downstairs, the stairway flanked by the building’s original brick walls. It’s almost like entering a European grotto. You’ll first get a glimpse of a glass-enclosed wine room and then take a sec to admire the bold paintings by Tallahassee artist Paul Tamanian.

I had a chance to tour Rootstock on October 2 as the owners and staff were finishing some last details. The setting alone is impressive and inviting but see what you think. The place opens at 4:30 p.m. October 3. 

Photo: Katie Reeves for Rootstock Pours & Plates

The attractions will be a focus on “shareable” small plates, artisan cocktails and a wine selection of 25 choices by the glass and 90 by the bottle.

Jumbo rock crab claws / Photo by Katie Reeves for Rootstock Pours & Plates

The menu, which will change often, offers soups, salads and spreads ($7 to $12), small plates ($3 one oyster to $14), large plates ($15 to market price for a whole, fried fish), sides ($5 to $7) and sweet plates ($8 to $9).

Charcuterie board / Photo by Katie Reeves for Rootstock Pours & Plates

Cheese and charcuterie plates are available with a choice of seasonal spreads, jams, pickles and assorted breads. The cost is $18 with three items, $29 for five and $40 for seven. The items include cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia and feta from Australia, smoked duck breast, Thibodeaux andouille and beef bone marrow canoe.

Roasted half chicken with candied pecans and pickles / Photo by Katie Reeves for Rootstock Pours & Plates

Among the choices from chef Matt Varn are poached beet salad, butternut squash, sliced tenderloin sliders, baked oysters, shrimp and grits (of course), eggplant pizza, roasted chicken, braised short ribs, roasted root vegetables and buttermilk pie.

Bartenders, looking sharp in tuxes with suspenders, will be pouring cocktails that include a Smokey Banana Colada and concoctions called a “Chill Collins” and Old-Fashioned Roots.

The 80-seat restaurant/lounge is divided into sections, easily set off for private parties, groups or private date nights. There’s a 30-seat room, which can be rented, that would work for meetings or gatherings. Rootstock is also bound to be popular for date nights, a friends’ night out chill gathering and after work (or legislative session) hangout. Few places of this ilk are open after midnight outside of College Town. What an exciting new addition.

As for the name, here’s what the owners have to say about their choice: “The rootstock is the nutrient-rich part of a plant that when merged with another, sparks new growth to create a heartier,
more sustainable variety.

“And we liked that idea. The idea that when we share the best parts of ourselves with others, that’s when the magic happens. Our dream is to create a place where people come together to break bread over shareable fare, fabulous wine, and artisan cocktails. And by that
sharing, discover the best of ourselves – together.”

I look forward to visits at Rootstock. I haven’t eaten there yet so I can’t speak to the food, but the setting and atmosphere are inviting. Looks like a spark of new life for downtown Tallahassee. 

Hours are expected to be 4:30 p.m. to 12:30 or 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It’s at 228 S. Adams Street, next to Andrews Downtown; 850-518-0201.

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