Wednesday, May 14, 2014

13.5% Wine Bar

Back sometime before last Christmas, I purchased an Amazon Local deal for 13.5% Wine Bar. We had every intention of using it around the holiday, perhaps during our annual pilgrimage to see the Miracle on 34th Street. Instead, we went to Arthouse, next door, and I can't remember why, Soon, the months slipped by until I realized our deal was about to expire. Before it was too late, we got ourselves to Hampden to enjoy the drinks, appetizers, and entrees to which we were entitled.

Honestly, I'm not much of a wine person. I used to think I preferred reds to whites, but now I feel the opposite. I prefer wines that are bright, crisp, and cold to tannic red vinos that are usually served entirely too warm. And I would much rather have a beer or cocktail than a glass of wine. And though I could have tried any alcoholic beverage on the menu as part of my deal, I started off with a glass of Chateau Gaillard Gamay, a bright rose with a lovely strawberry aroma. Mr Minx, who does prefer reds, had a fruity Reunion Malbec.

For our first courses, I chose the braised pork belly with cabbage. While it could have been a bit warmer in temperature, the pork belly was lusciously fatty and tender. The cabbage accompaniment had been dosed with vinegar, which cut the fattiness nicely, and the crispy shallots added a nutty, burnt-onion crunch. The sauce was very subtle, and I wouldn't have called it a bbq sauce at all.

BBQ Pork Belly: braised pork, red wine BBQ sauce, shaved cabbage, crispy shallots

Mr Minx's duck confit spring rolls were slightly less successful. While the rolls were greaseless and contained a nice amount of duck, they perhaps resembled actual Chinese carry-out spring rolls a bit too much. He felt that they fell flat, and the pungent mustard sauce was the dish's saving grace.
 Duck Confit Spring Rolls: cabbage, red onion, ginger, sriracha honey mustard
His entree, the confit chicken carbonara, was pretty damn good. While the menu listed fettuccine, the pasta he received was actually papardelle, but no matter. The rich sauce, gilded with a raw egg yolk, had just the right balance of smoky and cheesy flavors, and the pasta was silky and well-cooked. The shreds of chicken were completely superfluous, albeit tasty.

Confit Chicken Carbonara: fettuccini, grana padano, fresh egg
I had the lobster and grits. I love shrimp and grits, pretty much every version I've ever tried, and thought that lobster and grits had to be even better. While I enjoyed the dish overall, and it certainly was pretty, it was not without its problems. The grits were what I think of as breakfast-style, lumpy and plain, not creamy and rich. The lobster was extremely salty and a bit overcooked. But the peas tasted fresh and spring-y (the last time we had fresh peas in a restaurant, they were elderly starch-blobs) and the charred lemon added just the right amount of acid.

Lobster & Grits: spring peas, buttermilk grits, charred lemon, lobster jus
I enjoyed my glass of wine so much, I had a second, as did Mr Minx. While the meal was a tad uneven, we enjoyed the experience. The black leatherette chairs at 13.5% are plump and comfortable, making it too easy to sit back and enjoy yet another drink. We were able to snag a table behind a short wall so we could take flash photos without being too obnoxious. And our waitress/hostess was dynamite. I would not be averse to going back to enjoy one of the restaurant's cheese flights with a wine flight to wash it down.

13.5% Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
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