(New York, NY) Although we have high hopes for a fun lunchtime final adventure in Manhattan at newly-opened Mario Batali’s Eataly, the nice weather has brought out the crowds. We shoulder our way through a sea of people, feeling more and more claustrophobic, until we decide to give it a pass. Surely there must be somewhere else in the area to grab a bite, right? At the expense of some shoe leather, we happen upon Wine:30 just a few blocks away...
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Thanks to Google Maps (keyphrase “wine bar”), we cease our stumbling along the sunny Sunday sidewalks of New York, seeking some lunch, and end up at a place called Wine:30. I am not sure whether the name refers to “it’s beer o’clock!” or if there are 30 wines available, but it is not busy so we go in. The peace and quiet inside, compared to the raucous press of people at Eataly, is a balm.
The interior is polished wood and brick, understated, reminding me of wine bars in Paris. Blissfully, there is no television. Our waitress is quiet and friendly, drifting from our table to the only other occupied one, with silent elegance. I am immediately struck by how much this place reminds me of Le Gaigne. Hope surges within my breast that we will have a great meal.
Disappointment descends like a ton of bricks when we’re presented with the (shudder) Brunch menu. Eggs? We already had breakfast, thanks. Can we order off the lunch menu? Yes, thank goodness...but the charcuterie menu is not offered on Sundays. Booooooooo! Oh well, at least there won’t be eggs.
To begin, we order glasses of Villa Jolanda Prosecco from Italy. Soft on the palate and the bubbles help clear the way for food. We move on to the Dip Trio: pita (both hard and soft) with hummus; eggplant and roasted red pepper; and guacamole. I really dig the soft pita wedges (not a huge fan of the crispy variety), smeared with the eggplant. It’s not quite baba ghanoush, but just as earthy and tasty. The hummus, too, is slightly sweet and creamy. Although the guac is fresh, I’m not as enamored of it.
I move on to a glass of pinot noir (2008 Louis Latour, Valmoissine, Rhone) which is velvety and light...perhaps a bit too light, really. The only reason I order it—besides my deep, abiding love of pinot noir—is I’m hoping it goes well with the sandwich I choose for my lunch: grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, black olives, mozzarella, basil on a split baguette. Indeed, the wine does go pretty well, but I’m not overwhelmed by the sandwich. The baguette is slightly toasted; not a big fan of a crunchy bread. Although all of the components are fresh, they all sort of sit apart and don’t meld. I finish it half-heartedly, wishing for salumi instead.
No room for dessert, but we’re content to lounge a bit more. I order a glass of French Bordeaux (2009 Chateau la Goutere) which finally, finally, finally hits the spot. Deep, dark cherry with vanilla notes and a long finish on the back of the tongue, the wine helps ease the disappointing sandwich. Finally, we pay our final restaurant bill for the trip and head back to the hotel to collect our luggage. Thanks, New York, for yet another memorable weekend!
I'm a bit disappointed when we first enter Wine:30 because, frankly it just doesn't look like much. It's small, slightly drab looking and there's only one other table occupied. I'm tempted to turn around and retreat, but Jeremy seems game. After a behemoth breakfast, I am further disappointed when the waitress hands us brunch menus. It's nearly 2pm and I want something other than eggs and pancakes. Jeremy asks the waitress if there's any possibility we can order off the lunch menu and she confirms after a quick check with the chef.
I order a glass of the 2008 Leonoe Rosso a Super Tuscan from Castello Sonnino. I figure a good glass of red wine will improve my mood. After the chaos of trudging through Eataly (which was nothing but crowds and chaos), then wandering around in the chilly air trying to find a lunch spot, I'm a tad grumpy. I don't want to spend our last day in Manhattan in a sour mood, so I hope a little "liquid happy" will help!
We order the dip trio and select hummus, eggplant and roasted pepper, and guacamole from a list of five dips. It arrives quickly with both warm tortilla chips and wedges of pita bread. The dips are all yummy. The eggplant and roasted red pepper has a good kick and I find myself going back to it more than the hummus, my usual fave. The guac has an undertone of heat as well, sort of a low burn at the back-end. The wine and the dips succeed in brightening my mood and I decide to order an old standby for lunch, grilled cheese and soup. Maybe it will warm up my bones, still slightly chilled from our long walk.
The grilled cheese features gruyere paired with Niman Ranch ham on buttery brioche bread and the soup is a triple mushroom bisque. The bisque is thick and almost beefy with deep mushroom flavor. The brioche is toasty and crisp, filled with the nutty gooey cheese and salty ham. So comforting and delicious. It's everything I can do to share half the sandwich with Jeremy, but good manners win out.
My glass of Super Tuscan is quite good, a bit peppery at the end, but not the best I've had. More of a Darn Good Tuscan. For dessert, I choose a glass of the 2008 Klinker Brick Zinfandel; I don't think I've met a Lodi wine I didn't like and this is no exception. It's bolder and deeper than the Super Tuscan and the perfect dessert in a glass.
Shame on me for my intital judgment of Wine:30, which has turned out to be an unexepected delight. During our meal I notice a entire back half of the restaurant and a charming little courtyard beyond. Clearly we must come back to Manhattan if only to have a summer dinner in the courtyard!