Sunday, April 26, 2015
Wine Kitchen on the Creek
The Wine Kitchen on the Creek
One of our regular go-to restaurants for both lunch and dinner. A perfect location right on the creek ; perfect for a glorious evening outdoors and for people watching!
I'm going to break this down into two parts: Happy Hour and Regular Dining.
First Happy Hour. Fantastic bar food at a great price! These are not mini-servings with a mini-price. The dishes are all great. I don't think I've ever had one that I thought was meh. Particular favorites are the seasoned with gusto Steak Frites and the light and crispy calamari. For $6 , the steak could absolutely qualify for a light eater's dinner. The bar menu changes often, but I am always confident that whatever new delight they present will be something nobody else is doing and will be worth the calories.
Happy hour drinks - well, unless you order wine, there's not much of a selection. They offer one specialty cocktail for happy hour (changes daily), and if it's not your cup of tea, then your choices are limited. The other downside to happy hour is that you have to be inside the restaurant to participate. So, you have to choose between a really good value and the pleasures of sitting outside.
Now - on to the regular menu. I give an overall 5* to the flavors of the food. With very few exceptions, I have found the offerings to be well thought out, often succulent, and frequently fresh and exciting. Where it is sometimes a bit lacking is in the portion size.
The guacamole with chicharon appetizer is a prime example. For $5 you get a few chicahrones ( pork crackling) and maybe a quarter cup of guacamole. It tasted fine, but either it should have been a buck or they should have tripled the quantity of quac. That went firmly in the "never again" column.
Ditto for the three tuna tacos - they were the itty bittiest little things I've ever seen qualify as a taco. Tasted good, but one bite and it was gone!
The mixed nuts are a mixed bag. When the restaurant first opened, diners were rewarded with a decent size bowl teeming with warm, curried cashews. Now? Well, the nuts still arrive warm, but they lack the curry-ness of the old days and certainly the portion size has been cut back substantially.
Now, some good stuff. The oysters. Raw oysters, shucked without destruction, and presented beautifully with a lovely mignonette. We have ordered these multiple times - and though the oyster selection changes based on seasonal availability, the freshness and briny goodness never disappoints.
Whether you prefer fish, fowl or four-legged, they do proteins particularly well. Scallops are seared with a golden crisp crust yet sweet and tender inside. The papaya salad on which they were served presented a nice spicy contrast to the delicate shellfish. It wasn't the best papaya salad that I've ever had, but it didn't overpower the seafood so it actually worked well.
I'm sorry to say that I can't report on any of the vegetarian options. I honestly do try to eat healthy most of the time, but at the Wine Kitchen, I just can't pass up on some of their amazing meat dishes.
Oh and I almost forgot... the wine! Here you will find a well described selection of wines and a range of price points. You won't find the all-to-common Chateau Ste. Michelles or Beringers or Mondavis here. Rather they are wines that you may never seen before nor ever even heard of.
Fear not! You can order a flight of wines that will allow you to sample across a spectrum of flavors. You can have all red, all white, cheap white, cheap red, hearty wines, sparkling wines, mixed up wines, all-Spanish... well, you get the picture. There are plenty of flights to choose from if you don't want to pick just one glass.
ANd..part of the joy of ordering wines here are the descriptive cards that accompany your selection. Somebody (I hear it's the owner) has a good sense of humor and really excels at writing delightful tounge-in-cheek descriptions. They are a hoot!
I know that there have been some comments about the quantity of food on the plates. I agree that some (many of) the entree portions are small compared to typical restaurants these days. But..I think that the fact that I still prefer to spend my dining dollars at the Wine Kitchen attests to the quality and the value of the dining experience there.. And, in any case, I have never left hungry, and I have never left feeling like I didn't get good value for my money (except of course for those tiny tuna tacos and that darn puny dollop of guac).