Portalis Wine Bar
I have shopped for wine at Portalis during the day, but had yet to come in on an evening when I could try out the wine bar side of this Ballard establishment. Tonight was such an opportunity, where I was joined by a friend for a very enjoyable food and wine experience.
Portalis offers a great space to either shop for wine, enjoy a glass at the bar, or sit down at a table for something to eat. We arrived at around 6 pm with the place about half full, but by the time we left every seat was filled with folks enjoying a glass/bottle of wine and dinner.
Overall, the food, wines, and service were excellent. And it was especially nice that we arrived on a night when they were running a special "retail price" on all bottles of wine served at the bar ($12 off). As a result, rather than ordering wine by the glass, it made sense to have a bottle and take whatever was leftover home.
The wine bar menu is skewed toward more inexpensive Old and New World wines, with just a handful of local Pacific Northwest producers. The retail shop has a broader selection of Oregon and Washington wines, which you can purchase and have served in the wine bar for a corkage fee of $12.
To start things out, we chose a bottle of Toffoli NV Prosecco ($17) from the Veneto region paired with a tart ($12.50) of carmelized onion, asparagus, and garlic herb cheese along with a charcuterie plate ($11.75) featuring the house pate'. We followed this with a bottle of Pelissero 2005 Nebbiollo Langhe ($23) paired alongside a dish of gratin ($8.75) with goat cheese & fresh herb marinara.
The service throughout our stay at the bar was very attentive, with our server, Erin, offering small tastes of any wine before ordering. The plates of food were delicious and small enough to encourage you to order several differenct dishes. I prefer ordering a variety of dishes and pairing them with several different glasses of wines - it makes for a more adventuresome and enjoyable experience.
My only complaint is that there weren't more local wines being offered by the glass at the wine bar. I can understand why, as it probably takes some effort to go beyond the usual line up of inexpensive European, South American, and Australian wines offered by distributors. Plus, there's always the economics of serving a bottle that is priced reasonably enough to offer wine by the glass that a consumer will be willing to order.
Regardless, I will definitely return to Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar to enjoy some wine by the glass and various plates of food from its diverse menu. I recommend you give it a try as well.