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Review: The Local Vine

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Last night, I finally got to try out The Local Vine, a wine bar in the Belltown area of Seattle, which has been open for a year or so now.

Being a slow paced Monday evening, there were plenty of options available to sit near the panel of fireplaces, along the windows, or at the long bar. A friend and I chose to sit at the bar, which for the rest of our stay ended up to ourselves.

Our server behind the bar handed us this thick packet of menus, which resembled an over-designed marketing brochure with a variety of inserts. There was a wine by the glass menu, a food menu, and another tri-fold piece that I never even opened. An interesting approach, but does one really need this much material to choose a glass of wine or plate of food?

After scattering the four pieces of menu in front of us, we eventually located the wine menu and were well on our way to enjoying several flights of wine by the glass. Being in the mood for a white to start with, I chose the Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling 2006 while Scott opted for the Northstar Stella Maris 2004, both from Washington state. Considering that Chateau Ste Michelle makes hundreds of thousands of cases of this riesling, it is one of the better buys in terms of value and quality. A delicious wine that I enjoy before and during any meal.

The Local Vine does a good job of decoding wine by categorizing various glasses with labels such as "refreshing", "centered", or "statuesque" for some of the whites and "cheerful", "earthy", or "bombshell" for some of the reds. Each label is supported with a more detailed description, offering the customer an approachable way to select a wine that might appeal to them or match their food. The menu offers pairing suggestions using the same labels, which makes things that much easier.

For the first round of tastes, we ordered white truffled popcorn, which had to be one of the most over-priced ($7), yet under-whelming, appetizers of all time. Nonetheless, it offered some flavor and salt to accompany our wine. Our next course was the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears, which were cooked to perfection and then placed on a bed of arugula greens.

For our main courses, Scott ordered the spiced pork tenderloin and creamy parmesan polenta with a glass of Woodward Canyon 2004 Syrah. I chose the duck confit leg, controne heirloom beans, Uli’s sausage, and garlic greens with an Italian pinot noir. The pinot was interesting yet very understated. I would have preferred an Oregon pinot, but the options available were way too expensive by the glass for my tastes. Regardless, I really enjoyed the duck.

As a finale, we ordered two more glasses of the Woodward Canyon Syrah, which was a wonderful expression of Columbia Valley fruit, offering a delicious finish to our meal and a great complement to the bread pudding and chocolate brownie desserts. Overall, it was a delicious meal with some standout wines. The service and attention provided throughout our visit was great.

In general, I enjoyed this first visit, but would have prefered a busier night as the place seemed a bit empty. As a result, it lacked the celebratory energy one would hope to experience in a wine bar. Also, as much as I understand the need to diversify the wine menu, it does seem to come up short on local wines. This seems strange for a place that is named, The Local Vine. Considering our location, one would expect a broader selection of Pacific Northwest wines.

I do look forward to returning, especially as the weather warms up and the days grow longer. There is outside seating along the sidewalk, which should make for a great way to enjoy wines by the glass and various plates of food with friends after work. If you've been here as well, then please share your experiences by submitting a comment.

The Local Vine on Urbanspoon


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