“Once upon a midnight dreary…” is the first thought that crossed my mind, as I started to read the first of several reviews of this establishment in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. The reviews were all from fellow Bloggers that I follow about wine and food, and they had been invited for a night to sample the new menu, craft cocktails and wines for this “speakeasy” themed location. I had mentioned that this venue was under the radar for me, and that I must check them out. Oliver of “The Winegetter” sent me a message that it would be a great place for him and his lovely wife Nina to get together with my Bride and me for another night out, as it had been too long since we had all been together. We hammered out a night and we made it happen.
We arrived after Oliver and Nina, who decided to take advantage of some of the craft cocktails during the Happy Hour, which we could not make in time. They were also nibbling on some wonderful cashews that had roasted in a Truffled herb salt and I could have probably eaten a pound of these myself, they were that good. Since the new menu for the restaurant was about small plates we ordered several different dishes and shared among us. One of the more unique dishes for a restaurant, but always found in pot-luck affairs was the classic interpretation of Deviled Eggs with the traditional mousse and tarragon. There was also another dish, that I have missed from the old relish trays of days gone by, was the Chicken Liver Mousse, updated with grilled bread, apple chutney and pistachios. From the Charcuterie side of the menu we tried the Pork Confit Rillette with garlic, star anise and cinnamon. There was also a side of Sopressata, red wine flavored pork with sweet fennel, hot peppers and paprika; and a few chunks of Parmagiano Reggiano cheese. Nina and Oliver had the Steinhauser Farms Burger with some beautifully cooked fries, while my Bride had the pan fried trout and I had a dish called Mushrooms-on-Toast on White Lotus Farms country levain, with a poached egg and Sherry. Suffice it to say that the food was wonderful, but I do not take food porn photographs, as I have enough problems photographing wine labels.
Since Oliver and Nina had already been there, he was telling me about how several of the wines that were being served were actually in small kegs or barrels and that wine was actually poured from the barrel. I should have taken a side trip to the bar, to see it for myself, but the company was so enjoyable that I had a hard enough time to go and ask for a business card, which is my new way for a keepsake, since matchbooks are a relic of a time past and regarded only for today’s social pariahs.
Actually all of the wines that we tried were stilled poured from traditional bottles, so I was able to get a label shot of each wine. We started off with Groundwork Grenache Blanc 2013 from Sans Liege Wines. Grenache Blanc is a work horse among varietals and normally not encountered as a single grape wine, as it is part of the classic Chateauneuf du Pape wines of France and also found in different wines from Spain as well. This wine was sourced from Kopack, Last Frontier and Beato vineyards in the Paso Robles region and there were 900 cases made of this wine. The next wine that I was touted on was Corvidae Lenore Syrah 2012 from the Corvidae Wine Company of Columbia Valley, Washington. This wine was sourced from Yakima Valley and Heaven Hills; as the Columbia Valley AVA is one of the largest in the country. The wine was also the perfect wine for the restaurant as Corvidae refers to a group of black birds, as in the raven, and the name Lenore was also perfect for the venue. Syrah is famous in the Rhone Valley, but it has found a home in the New World as well, as the natural spice of the varietal works with a variety of foods, as far as I am concerned. The last wine that Nina and I both had, and we had it in lieu of dessert was Mercat Cava Brut Nature NV from Mercat Winery of Penedes, Spain. This sparkling wine is made with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, just like they do in the Champagne region of France, only this wine is made from the Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada varietals that are found and used very well in the Catalunya region of Spain.