Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dine Originals Week Fail

Tutto Vino
Dublin, Ohio
March 12, 2010

Some of my most favorite eating out experiences have been through Dine Original's version of Restaurant Week (or Dine Originals Week, as they call it).  Dine Originals is a wonderful group of independently owned and operated (i.e. non-chain) Columbus area restaurants.  They're all about celebrating what is local and what makes Columbus unique.  This is a group I can definitely get behind.   

Each time this week comes up throughout the year I eagerly anticipate the menus the different restaurants will offer and spend quite some time perusing through them and debating with my husband which one sounds like the best fit for what we're after.  This week was no different and we finally decided on trying out Tutto Vino.  This was not a restaurant that we'd heard a lot about, but the menu looked great and the place is featured as a wine bar.  How could we go wrong? 

As we drove over to the restaurant we debated what the cheese plate would be like and which one of us would get the pork tenderloin and which one would get the scallops (see Tutto Vino's Dine Originals Week menu here).  We often try to order different things and then share so we can experience more flavors.  We both had had a long day at work and were very hungry.  By the time we got to Dublin we were salivating! 

When we entered the restaurant we saw that there was a small wine store set up to the right and then a small restaurant and bar area to the left.  It looked very cute.  The hostess immediately gave us a warm welcome and quickly seated us.  We noticed that the ambiance was much louder and rowdier than what we had expected.  It kind of had more of a neighborhood bar feel rather than your typical low key and relaxing wine bar experience.  Some guy was playing terrible 80's music on his electric keyboard and it was so loud that I had a hard time having a conversation with Erik (No joke and no exaggeration.  I even like 80's music; but this is the type of 80's music that should die).  Then I also couldn't keep from staring at this diner sitting at the table in front of me.  He was on the burly side and was curiously wearing a heavy leather jacket a la James Dean and had 70's style side burns.  Definitely not your typical wine bar patron.  And oh how I wish I had the nerve to take a picture of him to share with you all, because he became much more important later in the evening!

Service was on the slow side, which gave us some time to contemplate what we wanted to do about dinner.  Given the fact that we had both had long and exhausting days at work, this was not turning out to be the relaxing fine dining evening we had envisioned.  We debated going to another restaurant, but ultimately decided we were too hungry to take the time to go elsewhere.  However, the music was so loud we also couldn't fathom staying there for a 3 course dinner.  We decided a pizza would be the quickest way we could get out of there with a full stomach. 

Since our dining objective had changed from leisurely dinner with wine to fast food we opted not to try any wine flights.  But the neighboring tables did and they looked like good and generous pours.  I went for a glass of a 2007 South Australian Shiraz called Snake Charmer and have to say that this was a very good glass of wine (and almost made me forget the synthesized music around me, but only almost)!  It was smooth, sultry, and elegant with dark berry flavors and cherry with some spice.  Had the atmosphere been different, I surely would have gotten another glass.  But instead I bought a bottle to take home and enjoy later!

Erik was impressed with the "beer cooler" which allowed him to easily peruse his options and then serve himself.  To go with our drinks we ordered the "Diavalo" pizza which came topped with banana peppers, red pepper, red onion, green pepper, and capicola ham.  This was truly a great pizza made up of good, fresh toppings and a crispy crust.  Delish.
About mid-way through the pizza the electronic 80's music had stopped, the mood quieted down, and I actually started to enjoy my meal.  However, just about five minutes after this I saw my neighbor with the side burns and leather jacket get up and move towards the "stage".  With closer inspection we realized he was an Elvis impersonator!  We couldn't believe our luck.  Check please!!

Overall, the wine and food were great.  However, the service was slow and the atmosphere was much too like an experience from Night at the Roxbury for me to enjoy a nice, relaxing glass of wine.  Because of this I don't expect to go back, which saddens me because I was really impressed with the food and wine selections.

Here's to a better Dine Originals Week experience next time around. 

Bill Total: 1 beer, 1 glass of wine, 1 pizza, and tip:  $22

Overall Rating:  2 1/2 buckeyes (bumped up from a 2 due to the good food and wine). 

Tutto Vino Wine Cellar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

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