(This should be a more inspired , but am about to head out to France to taste in the Loire and at the Dive, so postings for the next two weeks are somewhat on hold. See you soon.)
On the other hand there is the wine bar attached to the Down Under inspired restaurant, Public on Elizabeth Street. You enter "The Monday Room," as you would the restaurant but turn to the left at the reception and enter an alternative universe of leather clubby living room, leaving Public's wee- too- industrial- hipness.
Ruben, the super-friendly, super-handsome Spanish sommelier appears like a genie tableside. I wasnt sold on him at first. Was he really in a Peter Sellers disguise? I was suspicious of his impossibly full mop of hair and furry mustache that I felt could be pulled from his upper lip in one swift pull. Could he really show me anything? I was born a cynic and at that moment the cynic within was not in hiding. But it didnt take long for me to believe that his silky hair was authentic, it suited him and for him to coax out my inner innocent.
It turns out, Ruben is the real thing and not just some gushy wine guy in love with the wine lifestyle. He has investigated the bloodline of every wine on the list, and how can that not be inspiring?
Hes put his life on hold while studying for a Master of Wine. I immediately felt guilty that I had some how avoided the International Wine Center and never sat for the exam.
I looked over his list, one he had full reign over. He is way more generous than I. I'd have choked before I put on that Parkerized Barossa shiraz, and a Vougeraie, but I had to smile at his good intentions because he clearly was also catering to me with plenty of choices to bring on the goose bumps; such as the 2002 Levet Cote Rotie, 2000 Lafarge Volnay and the Arena Patrimonio red , which was utterly yummy, warm, rusty, sun baked.
At first blush the prices are high; $15.50 for a half glass of that 2002 Cote Rotie, the 1â2 glass was substantial, about the same size as a full glass as the Chelsea wine bar I visited in the last entry. However, all bottles are available in 1â2 or full glass, 1â2 bottle and full bottle. Order one of his flights if you wish or ask him to create another flight to suit you.
Food comes in small tapas bites, but not the size of pinxtos or NYCity sized tapas, real one or two bite but priced accordingly. The cheese plate are really terrific American selections from Saxelbys, but still, some bread and olives would be nice. Because wines like these need lingering over with some more nibbly bits to keep the wine company.
Bottom line is that the wine bar (no actual bar, by the way, more of a wine lounge) has adventure for the novice (in a romantically lit setting so no one ever need feel embarrassed), and it gives good drink for, well, the cynics like me.