A few weeks ago, I finally got around to trying this cute wine bar on Warner, a few blocks east of I10. I'll start with what I can say that is good. The room is set up nicely and everyone (including the clientele) was friendly. The wine list was good as well, if a bit overpriced. I had a nice Italian white (sorry can't remember now what exactly it was...more about that later).
We weren't very hungry, so we decided to split a caesar with "grilled chicken" ($11.95) and some bruschetta (6 for $10).
We knew we were in trouble as soon as the caesar came out. The lettuce was fine. The chicken on top of the salad was steaming (not like something freshly grilled...more like something microwaved) and did not taste fresh. It tasted like it came out of a package of precooked chicken. I'm not claiming to be certain they microwaved precooked chicken, but that was the flavor (if you cooked for yourself as a college freshman, you know the taste I'm talking about). The dressing also tasted cheap. My best guess at how they managed to make a salad this bad? I think they went to the grocery store and bought the caesar package that comes with all the ingredients in a bag, including little packages of chicken cubes, croutons and dressing. I've used those packages before, when I've been desperate, but I don't want to pay $11.95 for that kind of food.
It was a long time before the bruschetta came. We were just thinking (hoping) they might have forgotten, so we could spare ourselves more pain, when they brought them out. The bread was terrible. It was the kind you get at the grocery store that says "baguette" on it, but when you get home and start slicing it you realize it's just cheap white bread in the shape of a baguette. There also was no evidence that they brushed the bread with oil, which, as far as I know, is more-or-less part of the definition of bruschetta (actually, I wikied bruschetta...apparently, here in America, some of us have decided the word refers only to the topping, now!). The toppings ALL tasted like they came out of jars. We recognized most flavors from Trader Joe's. Don't get me wrong: I love Trader Joe's, but if I'm being charged $10 for 6 slices of white bread, I'd like to have fresh toppings at least. Actually, to be fair, I am not certain that the caprese topping was packaged. The Red pepper and olive toppings were definitely factory made.
The experience with the bruschetta reinforces the theory about the caesar.
The poor food sort of ruined the wine for us, too (probably should have just pushed the food away and enjoyed the wine), which is why I can't even remember what it was now.
I did see a couple people on Chow who liked this place. Did I just get them on a bad day? Or have they gone downhill? Or am I just wrong? If you've had a better meal there, please respond. I hate to bash the place; they seem really proud of their restaurant/store. But I must warn the hounds that our experience was dreadful. It was the worst food I have EVER had at a wine bar.
There are plenty of places in that area to get wine (how I wish I'd tried one of the others that night). I've heard very good things about Va Bene (thanks, abbefaith), which is about 2 miles south at 48th and Chandler. I'll be trying them once I've recovered from this recent trauma. At Priest/56th and Ray you can visit 56 East, next to AJ's. I haven't tried them yet, either, but I enjoy 98 South, which is run by the same folks, so I expect 56 East will be good as well.
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