Friday, December 24, 2010


we'd been waiting months to try ernesto's wine bar, but we just kept putting it off in favor of other groupon offers. finally, after nearly six months of waiting, we found a reason to go: some of our friends wanted to meet up for some post-grading-please-kill-me-now wine and cheese debauchery.

ernesto's wine bar
benton park

located in the confines of tucked-away benton park, ernesto's is a tiny little wine bar that offers up an intimate atmosphere (only a handful of tables) and contemporary furnishings. we sat at the largest table, which was situated comfortably in the corner next to the large front window, offering us an excellent view of the quiet, tree-lined street. plating was straightforward and unpretentious, though sometimes a little uninspired (see grilled cheese photo).

our waiter was competent, though he lacked the sincerity we like to feel at fine dining restaurants, especially ones as intimate as this. (a smirk and a givemeyerdamnorder attitude is just fine with us at qdoba, but show us a little more love when we're forking out 10 bones for some pinot freaking gris.) anyway, he was noticeably attentive with the water refills, something we chalked up to restaurant policy (y'know, to keep the wine drinkers from getting out of control).

since the larger plates were primarily meatcentric, we decided to skip entrees this night and go with a smorgasbord of appetizers. we started the night with a trio of nuts, opting for rosemary walnuts, curried cashews, and lavender marcona almonds.
though each flavor struggled to shine through, we have to admit that there's a whole lot of bang for the buck (all three helpings for only six dollars!). midway through the nut snack plate, the cheese arrived, which was a good thing because the nuts combined with the cheese beautifully. our cheese selections were the stilton, the gouda, and the "purple haze," a goat cheese infused with lavender and fennel pollen. the purple haze was by far the best of the bunch and is definitely worth returning for. on the heels of the cheese came our last starter: a trio of spreads, including a double order of white been hummus and a single order of tomato, eggplant, and pepper sauce. to the point: neither of these things is good enough to order again. moving on... the final component of our snack extravaganza was "the best grilled cheese." with wild mushrooms, sharp cheddar, black truffle fontina, and white truffle oil, we figured there was no way to go wrong. right? wrong. so. much. grease. for some reason, despite the richness of the ingredients, ernesto's chef decided it was a good idea to add an insane amount of butter to the bread. yeah, we get it, grilled cheeses are traditionally prepared with buttered bread, but there's also such a thing as discretion. make no mistake, the sandwich was incredibly tasty, but the oil and butter deathlock was simply overkill, and it ruined what could have been a transcendent sandwich. quite literally, our hands were glistening with sandwich runoff. ewwww.

overall, ernesto's is really close to doing things well enough for a return visit, but for now they're just not hitting the mark.



vegetarian-friendly score:


Ernesto's Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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