Kyle Webster at Eat: An Oyster Bar for House RPM Wednesday
It was the same clean and classy place it had always been, with a pleasant mixture of stainless super modern and quiet muted tones, all elegant and Euro-chic. It's still a wine-centric place too, with the obvious emphasis on the impressive Enomatic dispenser machines that line the wall behind the bar to support the aggressive program of wines-by-the-glass and wine flights.
My wife immediately opted for a white wine and Kyle, who is as adept with the wine list as the cocktail list, suggested the Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Bergheim 2009---which turned out to be just the thing.
Deiss can certainly be controversial, and his philosophy of winemaking often polarizes people for muting terroir; on the other hand, he's capable of making some damn fine wines, as exampled by this lovely smaragd-like Pinot Blanc (fat, silky, but totally dry and about as fragrant as Pinot Blanc can be expected to be).
Since it was a distinctly fine Dublinish day outside, this drink was a perfect warmer of cockles, whatever they are. I'd like to think Mr. Joyce had the benefit of the whiskey part of being Irish, and suspect he did with his obvious but not always immediately coherent loquacity.
The James Joyce @ Metrovino
The clean, crisp line of the Irish whiskey showed through nicely; the thankfully restrained Cointreau hit just the right balance and addition of flavor and the sweet vermouth and fresh lime juice equaled things out for a light, refreshing whiskey drink that avoided the sweetness of bourbon or the smokiness of scotch.
I spotted one of my favorite 'go to' wines on the list, a Prager Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2008, and of course had to try it; meanwhile, my red wine loving wife was ready for something deeply colored and deeply flavored, and I suggested the Buty Syrah 'Rediviva of the Stones 2007, a massive, tightly structured, intense Syrah from Wall Walla AVA that manages to avoid any sense of gobbiness. (And not coincidentally, in my opinion one of the top Syrahs in America.)
Both the Prager and the Buty were gorgeously perfumed, albeit in totally different ways, and the subsequent shared sipping was quite an aromafest. Fortunately, we had anticipated this by ordering a bruschetta appetizer and a cheese dish.
The Bruschetta was not only beautiful to behold, it was equally gorgeous to devour, and just the thing to step up to the wine.
On a slab of char-grilled Ken's Artisan Bread (a local favorite), the chef arranged a tangy herbed goat cheese and topped it with avocado, cucumber and a Provencal-styled black olive tapenade.
The contrast of the silky avocado and the bright, crunchy cucumber was an unexpected delight with the celery-crunch green of the Gruner, and the tapenade reached out to the Buty Syrah like they were long-separated family fondly reuniting.
We had chosen the Bermuda Triangle, from the same people that make the glorious Humboldt Fog, a dense, nicely aged goat's milk cheese with a funky rind.
It was garnished with toast crisps (not enough), walnuts, a balsamic fig reduction, and a single gigantic candied fig. The Triangle was so deliciously pungent with its just-short-of-old-gym-socks microbacterial funkiness, it needed the Buty Syrah to step up and have a serious discussion with it. It did.
Conversely, the Syrah was wound so tight, the cheese convinced it to open up a bit more and reveal that tart raspberry core, so the conversation worked out well for all concerned.
If I had to make one criticism of the dish, I'd question the overt sugar-syrup intensity of the candied fig as too much; stick with the balsamic fig reduction, but substitute a dried Mission fig instead of candied, I'd say.
Our server presented us with a plate of Adelle, a local cow and sheep milk combo cheese from the Ancient Heritage Cheese Company in Scio, Oregon, garnished with perfectly toasted pistachios (harder than you think), slices of truffle, and nicely spiced pears.
The cheese was remarkable, semi-solid in the middle with some creaming going on at the edges and a soft, chewy rind still holding it together. And this time the juicy spice of the pears was a perfect compliment to the cheese and pistachios and truffle, with all the elements playing off each other for in a sort of harmony through contrast.
All in all, a pleasant interlude out of the traffic and weather and into the warmth and hospitality. Metrovino is a perfect place to go for that shank of the day happy hour. But it's a great destination for dinner too. The small plates, the wines, and the spirits merely whetted our appetites to get back and experience more.