We decided to check out the second floor and were amazed at both the breathtaking views of downtown and the coziness. Exposed brick walls, dim romantic lighting, and puffy leather couches littered the hardwood-floored open space. We were presented with menus, and were given time to look and talk. We perused the menu, which included cheeses, flatbreads, small plates, fondues, greens, and desserts (including gelato). After a bit, we decided on a sparkling Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay) for my wife, Australian riesling for myself, and a Florentine flatbread. Service was both prompt and unintrusive- we definitely did not feel rushed (other establishments- take note!). We were also greeted by The Tasting Room Director, Nick Luedde, an old colleague of mine. He is both a very knowledgeable sommelier and a charismatic host. We shared a few laughs and then he left us to work the room.
Our flatbread came out, and was accompanied by a few friends: a caprese salad and a cheese plate, courtesy of Nick (all in the photo). The flatbread had a crisp crust and was very tasty with Drunken Goat cheese, spinach, and carmelized onions. The caprese salad was built in tower form, with fresh mozzarella stacked over sliced tomato (not as ripe as one would like) and basil. A combo balsalmic vinegar/truffle oil emulsion was drizzled on the plate, and was absolutely delcious- its syrupy, sweet, truffled flavor led me to wipe the last bit of it from the plate with bread! Their cheese plate (priced at $25 for five cheeses) was quite an ensemble. It is presented on in-house, handcrafted cheese boards made from lacquered wooden wine cases (we had one from Chateau la Nerthe). All five cheeses were delicious and accompanied by four types of artisan bread, roasted cashews, and dried cranberries. We also tried an olive tapenade, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, and fresh green Sicilian olives. It was a feast which needed only good conversation, time, and more wine!
We had some red next, my wife choosing a Portuguese Toriga Nacional based blend, while I went with my all time favorite Barbera, Rivetti's La Spinetta "Ca' di Pian". The wine list is impressive, with over 100 wines available by the taste (2oz.), tasting flight (3x 2oz.), or the glass (6oz.), and a huge bottle list. It is littered with many handcrafted, small batch wine favorites, offering great value for some killer wines. Don't be afraid to ask your server or Nick for suggestions, because they know their product and won't steer you wrong.
There are also some great weekly and monthly deals to take advantage of. Every Monday is half priced glass pours, while Tuesdays offer half priced bottles (originally priced under $99). They also offer a $30 tasting every third Tuesday of the month, featuring 50 wines. Also, look for their augmented menu, being released Monday, March 2nd. It will include main course options like tupelo honey-sarsparilla soaked bone on pork loin, southwest seared ahi, air & water (pan seared duck breast and butter poached lobster tail), foie gras smothered grilled NY strip, piave brûléed jumbo sea scallops, grenache braised short rib sous-vide, mesquite kiawe smoked game hen, and pan seared monkfish, all priced between $20-32. The small plates will spruce up a bit with miso rubbed bershire pork belly, ceviche, bacon wrapped and manchego stuffed dates, and NY strip bruschetta. I can't wait!