Before Chef Doug Turbush came to East Cobb, the restaurant landscape was dotted with fast food chains and a Chuck E. Cheese. Sure, you could go to Hoolihan’s for a sit-down dinner, but that’s nothing more than overpriced chain food. Then Turbush came along and planted Seed. We have eaten at Seed twice with mixed results, but the critics love it. Seed showed the food world that chef-driven restaurants can thrive in East Cobb. Soon, along came Common Quarter and Zeal. Now, Seed has sprouted an offspring, Stem Wine Bar.
Tonight, Date Night gets an exclusive sampling of the Stem menu and wine list. Coincidentally, the restaurant is located right next door to Seed.
Walk through the corkscrew and you are inside.
It’s a much cozier atmosphere. Can you see the wine motif in the decorating?
The centerpiece of the restaurant is the bar. We are told they can actually change the color of the lights above the hanging glasses.
Pull up a bar stool and get to know your wine-tenders, also known as “hospitality and beverage professionals”. They know a lot more about wine than you do. Tonight, David and Jake take care of us. They seem to know most of the people who come in. They will probably remember us the next time we visit.
You can see a lot more of Stem Wine Bar in our exclusive Tastemade video, which you can watch here. Don’t miss Eve fumbling her way through the close after five tastes of wine.
We are served a lot of food tonight and we should get right to it. The restaurant has picked the food for us and paired a wine to go with each course. We have no idea what is coming until it arrives at the table. Our first course is the Salumi cheese board, served with a Chateau Beaulieu Rose from Provence.
The wine is very refreshing on a hot night. Look at the beautiful presentation on the cheese board. Almonds, olives, duck prosciutto, bleu cheese, brie, and peppers highlight the plate. It’s an excellent appetizer, but most of it is made elsewhere. You may want to save room for the food made in-house. Like the soft-shelled crab, which is the special tonight.
This isn’t on our menu, but Eve started drooling when she saw it on the specials board, so they are kind enough to bring her an order. If you go in and these are on the menu, snap up an order.
We are brought a glass of white wine next.
The Castello do Papa from Spain is crisp and refreshing and makes us wonder why we don’t drink more white wine. It is served with a local bean and field pea salad.
Also served is a shaved Brussels sprouts salad. These are perfect for the vegetarians in your crowd. The lighter salads go great with the white wine that is being served.
Next out is Stem’s take on seafood, served with an Adelsheim Pinot Noir from Oregon. You can taste cherries in this wine.
The scallops are served atop a red pepper piperade. Scallops are not usually a favorite around here, but we would order these again. They are soft and not the least bit chewy. Check out the Spanish octopus in the rear plate. These are slow-cooked in red wine, which makes the octopus as tender as the fingerling potatoes they are served with. Chorizo sausage gives this dish a kick.
The last savory course is our favorite. It is paired with the best wine of the night, an Ontanon Reserva Tempranillo from Spain. The wine is from 2004, which makes us feel like we are drinking some vintage stuff.
Dates stuffed with sausage and wrapped in bacon? Yes, please! This is fantastic. You get a flavor bonanza in your mouth. It’s spicy, sweet, smoky, and savory all at the same time. Don’t miss the hanger steak, tender steak cooked to medium rare with sun chokes and chimichurri. These two dishes are must-haves when you visit.
David and Jake even know how to pair wines with dessert. Sherry is not for just your grandmother’s “secret stash” anymore.
Our sherry is made in Spain and goes perfectly with the sticky toffee date cake. It’s a sweet wine with a sweet dessert that makes a wonderful ending to this tasting at Stem.
The bottom line on Stem Wine Bar: Pop in for a glass anytime. We really enjoyed the wine, the expert guidance from our sommeliers and some incredible food. We would pop in for a glass of wine and a small plate, or perhaps celebrate an occasion here. Many of the wines are reasonably priced, and you can taste small glasses of rare wines without having to rob a bank first. Doug Turbush has a winner on his hands here. He just announced an oyster bar that will go in a nearby shopping center. It looks like the Turbush empire is going to continue to grow.
Disclosure time: Since this was a media event, Date Night did not pay for the food and wine on tonight’s date. Our opinions, however, are priceless.