Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My heart stolen....by a Barrel Thief!

Saturday evening Megan and I ventured up to Barrel Thief Wine, the new wine shop/ wine bar/ café across from Short Pump Towne Center. We were heading there for some dinner and (of course) wine.

Prior to leaving for the restaurant we checked the website to make sure they had vegetarian options on their menu and to get a sneak peak at what wines they serve. We were slightly disappointed to see that they only were currently serving 12 wines by the glass, but were excited nonetheless to try the new wine café out. I mean come on, it has to do with wine. Ha ha

Our disappointment about the limited by-the-glass wine list quickly dissipated while we were waiting to put our name on the list for a table (they were quite busy). We saw a cute little sign that effectively said, "see any wine in the shop you want, take it to your table and the waitress will open it for you, the price will be the retail price on the label plus six dollars." Sweet, a $6 corkage fee!! So while we waited for a table, which was only about 10 minutes, we got to peruse the wine shop-- it was like taking a virtual tour of their wine list. They have a nice, diverse selection, which according to what I read online is currently around 300 bottles, though it seemed like more.

Once we were seated we looked over the menu, which consistedof salads, tapas-style dishes, cheese plates, panini and desserts. The back of the menu had information about the 12 wines they are serving by the glass.

The wine we chose was a bottle of the 2005 Vietti Barbera d’ Asti, which our waitress gladly opened for 6 bucks and brought us two nice Schott Zweissel glasses to drink from.

The tomato mozzarella salad had nice red and yellow vine tomatos with fresh mozzarella, layered with an excellent fresh pesto and topped with toasted pine nuts. The pesto really set it above the typical caprese salad drizzled with balsamic. Don’t get me wrong, I love the typical caprese, but this was a nice spin on the classic.

The sandwich we both ordered was the portabella mushroom Panini which was layered portabella, manchego cheese and sun dried tomato pesto. It was very nicely grilled with a good amount of olive oil- not “greasy” in the slightest. Again, the pesto (this time sun-dried tomato) really set the dish off. It was also nice to have the manchego cheese instead of the typical mozzarella. We both enjoyed the sandwich thoroughly and the Barbera was a perfect match. Our only complaint was that the plate looked rather bare with just the sandwich halves sitting on it. There was no drizzle of sauce or garnish to add a little color to the stark white plate, but if you have to complain about something, I would rather it be that the plate looked naked versus the food.

A few notes on the wine: As I said it was very nice pairing with the food that we ate for dinner. The mushrooms on the sandwich brought out the earthiness in the wine and the fact that the sandwich itself was not laden with oil and not too “heavy” allowed the fruit room to express itself. The Barbera had great aromas of plum, cherry and blueberry, with similar flavors on the palate followed up with a hint of tobacco. The tannins were definitely noticeable as we drank the wine prior to the meal arriving, but the food and the cheese in both of the dishes help manage those quite nicely. If I were to buy this for drinking at home, I would wait another year before opening it.

For dessert we shared a miniature pound cake Panini with Nutella spread in the middle and some fresh whipped cream on the side. Holy cow it was good, and just the right size. The flavor of the grilled pound cake alone was fantastic. My mouth is watering as I am recounting the experience. To go with our delicious dessert we paired an Australian Tokay with it, which is quite similar to a Port in taste but is the Australian version of the Hungarian Tokaji (kind of like Shiraz is the Australian Syrah). It was a great treat, and was served in a unique dessert wine glass. In drinking the Tokay you could definitely taste the alcohol, but it was smooth, with nice round toffee and honey flavors.

As you can tell we had a great time and plan to go back often. We talked with one of the owners, Ned I believe, who let us know that the 12 wines by the glass should be changing weekly and added me to the email list to get updates on what wines they are currently serving.

So go check 'em out! Your heart will be stolen too!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed your Barrel Thief experience! Please come back frequently and keep talking up that chef as well as the store!

Penny said...

We'll definately try this place. It looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Michael Davis said...

Make a point of meeting their French Wine buyer, Ben Andersen. I had the good fortune of joining him on a trip to the Rhone Valley. It was 25 days, 60 producers and over 600 wines tasted. Chat him up and he'll point you towards some outstanding stuff.

Best,
Michael

Anonymous said...

You should also check out Enoteca Sogno, and Bin22. They both opened about 2 years ago, and are worth checking out.

John Witherspoon said...

Megan and I have been to Bin 22 a couple of times, about a year ago now was the last visit though. The only thing that doesn't take me back there is the limited wine list. I have been really excited to try Enoteca though, just never make it there. Thanks for reminding me I need to.
John

Anonymous said...

Bin 22 has only about 1100 sq feet to deal with, they do about 15 wines by the glass and 60 by the bottle. Enoteca has a bit more space, and a full kitchen with great food. BT's menu is very similar to Bin 22's, but have more wine selections, 13 miles out of the city though. all are great.

John Witherspoon said...

Hey Anonymous
WOW, BIN 22 has up their wine since we were last there. I would say they only had 15 wines total, but it has been more than a year ago since we last visited them. Thanks for the update - I need to visit both places soon.

John