What better way for food bloggers to connect than over a great meal? Malika Bowling of Atlanta Restaurant Blog organized a wonderful event last week for the Association of Food Bloggers at Vine & Tap, a new restaurant opened in February by Ian Mendelsohn and his wife Susan.
White leather chairs and tufted banquettes in shades of deep purple add a sense of formality to the space, contrasted by the rustic finish of the wood tables and tiny lights suspended over the dining room and bar. Our group was seated at a table in their private room, available for parties and business functions. Ian Mendelsohn greeted us and spoke about his passion for wine and his desire to reinvent the wine bar after years of focus on craft cocktails. His background as a sommelier led him to take the position of Wine Director of the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which eventually brought him to the same position at the St. Regis in Buckhead. He has visited nearly every winery represented on his wine list at Vine & Tap…an impressive feat. Everyone at the table ordered a glass…for me, the Stolpman “La Caudrilla” syrah, a slightly peppery red that is one of four selections on tap.
Writers for Spatialdrift, Friday Date Night, and Urbandaddy, were seated nearby as the servers started us off with a lovely assortment of cheeses and charcuterie, with baskets of toasted ciabatta. Almost all of the charcuterie was locally sourced, like the delicious guanciale from Pine Street Market and chorizo made at The Spotted Trotter. My favorite cheese was also local, from Many Fold Farms, a velvety, ash-ripened wedge made from sheep’s milk called Condor’s Ruin. Meats and cheese were paired with housemade pickles, mustard, and strawberry jam. A dish of rabbit rillettes was rich and unctuous, just the sort of thing my chef friends rave about and a great dish to accompany an intense glass of Clos Martinet Menut garnacha, my second selection.
A sample of the red royal garlic shrimp arrived, expertly steamed and served in a tasty sauce. I normally would not have ordered this dish as I avoid items with the word “garlic” in the name, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find the flavor not overwhelming.
Our next course was a sample portion of Uncle Ray’s crab cake which was all crab, no cake. The jumbo lump crab was flavored with mustard and served simply with water crackers. Chef only makes twenty of these cakes per day, and I’m certain they must go fast!
The final savory dish was a wonderfully tender grilled hanger steak served with asparagus risotto. Ian recommended a Lebanese red, Musar Jeune, to pair with the steak. Excellent.
Two flavors of cobbler, one with mixed berries and the other with rhubarb and strawberries, were delivered in individual ramekins to guests at our table…a sweet ending to a wonderful meal. We were also treated to a tasty parting gift, a canister of exotic flavored popcorn from Caja Popcorn. LC and I couldn’t resist opening it that night.
It’s always great to meet and compare notes with fellow writers, often the faces behind the blogs I trust for the latest restaurant news and reviews. We had a great time getting to know each other and learning about wines from an expert!
2770 Lenox Road 404-600-5820