Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wine! (and some food)

The Wine Guy
Creekside at Gahanna
October 25, 2009
7:30ish pm

What a week it had been! Work for both of us had been crazy and overwhelming and to top it all off we found out we needed to replace our entire heating and cooling system! We were looking for a place to escape, relax into some good conversation, and enjoy some wine. We had heard The Wine Guy just might be able to help.

As we walked in we immediately felt warm and comfortable, especially coming in from the cool fall air. The place had a fun and relaxed vibe with the bustle of friends laughing and enjoying themselves. But the back of the restaurant was still quiet or intimate enough for a fun date. Immediately looking around I enjoyed the light flickering off the wine bottles on the side and the warm wood bar. The place was full, but not overly crowded and there were a mix of couples, women enjoying girl's night out, and older groups of friends. It seemed to be an any occasion type of place. The hostess was friendly and explained all the tables were full, but we were welcome to sit at the bar for the evening or put our name in for a table and start at the bar. We decided to start at the bar and move to a table later. As we waited, we were glad we had gotten there at 7:30, by 8 the place was packed with no room to wait at the bar and little room to stand inside!
We quickly found a seat and the bartender was jovial, knowledgeable, and helpful in a friendly rather than a "I know all there is to know about wine" way. He was just what you'd think the "wine guy" would be. We settled on sharing the Italian wine flight which was comprised of 4 reds.

Number 1 was the Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti was not exceptionally dry, and definitely not quite sweet; but tasted of grape and cherry jam with a perfumey bouquet and acidic finish.

Number 2 was the Memo Montepulciano D'Abruzzo which had a deep dark fruit aroma, a muted thicker sweet flavor, almost syrupy, and contained a smooth beginning, but was more acidic in the finish. I would have preferred more brightness in the flavor, rather than thickness of texture. However, the flavor seemed to change with each sip. It would be interesting to see what this one would be like if decanted.

The third was a Renato Ratti Nebbiolo which had a deep fruity aroma and a taste of cherry with an earthiness.

The last was a Borgo Pretale Chianti Classico Riserva which was friendly and homey. It was exactly what you would expect out of a warm Chianti and if I closed my eyes I could almost feel the warmth of the Italian sun bottled up with grapes.

Overall, these were satisfying wines, but the Chianti is the only one I liked enough to try and buy on my own. Before we finished our first fight our table was ready and we quickly moved. Before we had even decided what to try next we were brought an amuse bouche of pita wedges with a spread of cream cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and basil. This was heavenly! I loved the silkiness of the spread, the gentle herb flavor, and freshness of the pita.
We then decided to try the Cabernet flight and put in our food order. We decided to order a few small plates to get a better sampling of the food. We ordered the hummus and olive tapenade, the Greek chicken, and the steak and asparagus with a mushroom risotto. We also mentioned to our waiter that we really enjoyed the pita and cheese spread and so he brought us more! Gotta love that.

The hummus and olive tapenade was also wonderful. The pita was charred, the olive tapenade has a strong salty flavor, which paired nicely when topped with the creamy hummus made of black beans, roasted garlic, and sun dried tomatoes. I tried the tapenade and the hummus both on a pita piece independently, but this was a case of the sum being better than the parts. The hummus independently was too bland and the olive tapenade too salty, but together they were just right. A piece of lettuce added in just the right amount of crunch.

I was not as impressed with the entree selections. The Greek chicken was pan fried and served with feta, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach in a thin sauce. It was okay, but reminded me of something I'd be served at a banquet or conference. The dish sure was pretty though!

The steak and asparagus with mushroom risotto was an "interesting" dish. The steak was done nicely, the asparagus was tender crisp, and the mushroom risotto was creamy. However, the steak was topped with a chipotle sauce that just didn't meld with the rest of the dish. If the dish was just chipotle steak, that would have worked. Or if the dish had been a mushroom risotto with asparagus, that would have worked. But the chipotle with the mushroom risotto did not taste well together. In this case each part was greater than the sum.

The Cabernet flight was composed of a Robert Hall Cabernet which was light with berry notes; a Napa Cuvee 12 Cabernet, which I honestly can't remember (as the dinner went on and the more relaxed I became the less time I took to take notes!); a J Lohr Hilltop Cabernet which had a deep dark fruit flavor, most notably of plum; and a Faust Napa Valley Cabernet, which I also don't remember! :) I can, however, say I enjoyed them all!

Overall, this place has a great relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, with great service. This is a great place to meet up with friends, kick back and relax with a glass and a loved one, or have a fun girl's night out. However, I'd save this place for happy hour or drinks and appetizers before a night out or late dinner. Save your main dishes for another place.

Bill Total: 1 Italian wine flight, 1 Cabernet wine flight, hummus and olive tapenade, Greek chicken (tapas portion), steak with mushroom risotto (tapas portion), and tip= $50.40 (we used the Entertainment Card to get one tapas dish free)

Overall Rating: This is a hard one. I enjoyed my time spent here, the wine, the pita and cheese spread, and the hummus so much I'd give it 4 buckeyes. However, I really was not impressed with the entrees, so I'd give them 3 buckeyes. I guess I'll split the difference and go with 3 1/2.

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