Ian Mendelsohn has a vision. He wants to see wine bars like his Vine & Tap in a neighborhood like yours some time in the future. “Atlanta does not have a lot of good wine bars,” he tells a group of bloggers and food writers assembled in Vine & Tap’s private room. “I am hoping to change that.”
We are gathered tonight at the kind invitation of the Association of Food Bloggers and the talented Malika Bowling, who has arranged quite the shindig. Vine & Tap is near Lenox Square, right off of busy Lenox Road. They have been open since February. We are here to check out some of the samplings of the Vine & Tap menu and to learn some things about their wine list.
Disclaimer time: Date Night is on a Thursday this week, and because we are guests of Vine & Tap, we do not pay for our meals. Our impressions, however, are priceless.
Date Night readers know that we are beer people, but we do like a good glass of red every now and then. This is the place to get that glass and the people here will guide you in every step of selecting one. The wine menu is quite large and you can get anything by the glass because of this guy…
The Coravin wine dispenser can pour a glass of wine from any bottle without opening the bottle. It injects a needle thru the cork to get the wine out, and then injects argon into the bottle to keep the wine fresh. Bottles are known to stay fresh for over a year. You can buy one of these for $300 and have it at home. Or you can just visit Vine & Tap and watch them use theirs.
We both order a nice Chianti Classico. It’s our favorite choice during wine events.
The beer list is impressive, with over 20 available. Mendelsohn want V& T to be like a gastropub, but with wine as the focus. Here’s a great way to start: bread from Alon bakery.
What could make it better? Dip it in the olive oil and see.
Check out these beautiful charcuterie boards.
The cheese and meats are local if possible. We ate some amazing things on these boards. Make sure your date starts off with something from this part of the menu.
Next out is the rabbit rillette. We don’t eat a lot of rabbit, and this was just OK to me, nothing special. There are better things on the small bites menu like sliders, fried oysters and short ribs.
We do like this dish from the “bigger plates” part of the menu, the red royal garlic shrimp. The plump, juicy shrimp come in a spicy garlic sauce. The portion sizes are much larger than what you see in our photos. We are sampling the menu and if they give us a full portion, they would have to wheel us out of here.
Uncle Ray’s crab cake is exactly as advertised. It’s just crab and some seasoning. As you can see, there is no filler and it falls apart onto the crackers that come with it. Uncle Ray has quite the recipe. If you like crab, you are going to love this dish.
Before our last course arrives, we ask for a wine that goes good with meats.
Without hesitation, Mendolsohn produces a bottle from Lebanon. That’s the country, not the city in rural Georgia or Indiana. He has either met the vintners or visited the vineyards or almost every bottle on his list. The guy knows his grapes.
Our final savory sample arrives, the NY strip steak with asparagus risotto. Call me old-fashioned, but this is my favorite plate of the night. The plate is gorgeous, and combined with the Lebanese wine, it’s excellent.
There are dessert wines, so bring out dessert. Because we are driving, we do not get a port, but instead sample two kinds of cobbler.
They make what’s in season, and in tonight it’s the mixed berry and the rhubarb cobblers.
The Bottom Line on Vine & Tap: Oenophiles rejoice–now there’s a great place to take a date. You can go for appetizers and a glass, dinner and a bottle, or mix it up and do dessert and a glass of port. Whatever you choose, there is a wine, a beer, or a plate to suit your mood. It’s a nice cozy atmosphere that is conducive to conversation. Ian Mendelsohn is onto something good here.
A Parting Gift
As we leave Vine & Tap, we are presented with a can of popcorn from CaJa popcorn in the Peachtree Battle shopping center.
CaJa offers unique flavors like spicy bbq, pimento cheese, and sea salt caramel. With our recent college graduate in town, the can did not last long. CaJa uses only all-natural ingredients, with no preservatives and no gluten, so not only is this stuff tasty, it’s good for you!.