About a week ago, I inconveniently found myself at The District. I was there to sample offerings from the restaurants that would be participating in the first annual restaurant week to be featured in the area. Sadly this event was as poorly planned as the layout for The District itself and one can’t help but wonder if there’s anything The District does well?
Disappointed by the lack of food, the poor execution, and feeling miserable and cold; we needed a reprieve. We were cranky, tired, and hungry. Not the best combination if you’ve got a group of women together. We made haste to The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar. Someone said something about pizza and wine and we all mumbled approval, formed a beeline, and zipped along.
I was instantly at ease upon entering. It wasn’t really due to the fact that there was a hostess that greeted me because I barely noticed one. It was just the atmosphere and experience. First impressions are everything in my book. Rarely do you get a second chance if you disappoint me once but the numb cold body needed the warmth provided by the brewery and I was in awe and why not? I was in the presence of a state-of-the-art 5,000 bottle wine cellar. Did I have a glass? Sadly, no. That is an experience I’ll save for another time.
The dark undertones really set the mood here. It’s live, happening, exciting, and sophisticated. You can bring your
date here but make excuses for being at The District. Promise her dinner will be well worth visiting because it will be. We settled in at the bar area. Our server brought us one menu to share amongst the four of us. Did they run out of printing money when they invested in the restaurant? How can you only have 8 menus? That’s a slight overlook considering the menu offerings.
The evening began with the Alsatian pizza – which is more like a flat bread of creme fraiche, applewood smoked bacon, gruyere, and onion. The idea appealed to me minus the onion. If prepared raw without being allowed to chill in an ice bath first or in a fridge, it can have a bitter taste in any dish and I’ve experienced that all too often while dining out. Growing up Indian has taught me a few things about cooking with pungent ingredients like onion and garlic but of course, we’re not dealing with a chain restaurant here so I had to keep my mouth shut and trust the experts and the chef and I’m pleased to note that the onion was subtle. We each got a slice and I wish I could have had another. I don’t quite know how the creme fraiche was incorporated here. I didn’t taste it but the other flavors definitely made a name for themselves.
After singing the praises of our pizza, we dove into the risotto lollipops accompanied with a truffle sauce. Garnished with sticks, they vaguely resembled cake pops except they were savory not sweet. The sauce was thin and didn’t really stand out. I couldn’t distinguish a flavor. The risotto lollipops stood out on their own. Fried perfectly, they held their shape and texture and were a delicious highlight to our wonderful meal.
We ended the night with Herb Pommes Frites. Don’t get excited folks. They’re just seasoned fries with a fancy name and some lackluster dipping sauces. Considering our first two meal options, we were disappointed when presented with shoestring fries and watered down, day old slop. First of all, I’m not a big fan of shoestring fries. I prefer that they have some substance but not that of a steak fry either. Just a balance of the two. A medium fry with a thin succulent layer of potato paired with the most excellent assortment of dipping sauces. Yes, that’s my idea of having fries.
The fry experience was akin to the level of service we received throughout this meal. We saw our waitress during brief intervals of our meal – to ask for our order, how we were, to occasionally top off our water glasses, and ultimately leave the check. Perhaps, she got tired of us “foodie types” and our nature to complain about every little thing. Heck, we think if we’re paying for you to make it; it should damn well be perfect. Yes, my potty mouth just said some bad things. So what? I’m your guest, you’re cooking me a meal, and I’m giving you my hard earned money. I expect you to deliver.
Aside from a few minor details, our evening was wonderful. If I ever find myself in the area, I would definitely consider a repeat visit. This trip was shared with Anita Lau, Holly Sarah Wong, and Cynthia Soo.