The Wise Owl Wine Bar
West Chester, OH 45069
|Hours:||Tues – Sat: 4:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.|
Tapas: $8 – $24
Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu: $80/Three Courses, $110/Four, $160/Five
Oh sommelier, you had me at “sex on a plate.”
Maybe that needs some clarification.
It was cold and raining when we walked in past the tempting, but weather-forbidding, outdoor patio. Once inside we were greeted with warmth and a “sit wherever you’d like.” We had seen The Wise Owl several times before and always made note to go there, but as soon as we were home we had usually already forgotten it.
The modern decor mixed with the soft lighting made for a warm and relaxed atmosphere. Friendly and classy, without being pretentious.
We had free reign to pick wherever we wanted to sit – a perk of going out on a weeknight. Since it was just Adam and I that ruled out taking up the comfortable looking couches. There were many long tables near a giant wall of wines, but they were for larger groups. Then we spotted a table near the bar in the back that was perfect. It was in the middle of all the action and not too big or small to have drinks and food.
Moments after we sat a young looking fellow appeared with menus and greeted us. He came back a few more times while we looked through the menu – which is one page of tapas style food and several pages of wine. Even as wine lovers, we were overwhelmed with the choices available.
Finally, we ordered – a bottle of the Bodini (a 2010 Malbec from Mendoza) along with the Conversation Plate, Tomato Bisque, and Adam decided our meat should be the Duck Confit.
Our friendly server quickly came back with our wine and, soon after, with the conversation plate which consisted of assorted cheeses, meats and accompaniments. In one corner of the plate sat a few warm slices of toasted bread, which we used as transportation for the other delicacies. There was one cheese was paired with kalamata olives and roasted almonds, some slices of salami on one side, another cheese with roasted garlic, tomatoes and peppers and in the center was a portion of bleu cheese, green grapes and pistachios topped with honey.
There wasn’t an item on the plate we didn’t like. Each little cluster was amazing and the flavor combinations did not disappoint. My favorite was the cheese with kalamata olives and roasted almonds. The almonds themselves were coasted in something sweet which made them tasty just on their own, however when eaten with the cheese and an olive the flavors would make your mouth explode with delight.
In between the cheese plate and our upcoming Tomato Bisque, our server returned with some not so good news – the chef didn’t like the way the Duck Confit had come out and suggested we order something else. We asked our server what he recommended and he suggested the Roasted Pork Tenderloin, adding that it was like “sex on a plate”, or the short ribs. Since the pork tenderloin came with such enthusiasm we went with it.
Honestly, he left us with such high expectations I couldn’t wait for it to come out. I wanted to skip the Tomato Bisque and go straight to it but, luckily, the bisque came out first and filled my head with new thoughts.
Thoughts of love.
Alone, the Tomato Bisque was on the high end of standard. However each bowl came with two slices of bleu cheese compound buttered bread which completely changed it from a good bisque to a fantastic bisque. I could eat the bread alone all day, but combined with the Tomato Bisque it really made the flavors pop.
Then came the Roasted Pork Tenderloin. It sat atop haricots vert nestled beside sweet potato puree and was topped with a curry-apple butter sauce and roasted pumpkin vinaigrette.
The savory pork melted as we bit into it. Dipping the slices of pork into the savory sauce was absolutely delicious – seductive even. Even the sweet potato and haricots vert were outstanding. The whole dish was… sex on a plate if you will. The chef came out to see if we liked it, and to make sure we were satisfied with our new choice. Our enthusiasm couldn’t be hidden, since we were all smiles and were devouring the delicious pork.
To round out the evening, we wondered what we should order for dessert. Despite only having three choices, it was still difficult as all of them sounded fantastic (and, after all that we had tried so far, we had high expectations.) As soon as our server returned and we mentioned we were thinking of a dessert, he instantly said we had to get the Yellow Beet Cake and, if we did, he’d give us a wine that paired amazingly with it for free.
His enthusiasm was so strong (and his previous suggestions had been so good) that we really had no choice. We went with it.
Two gorgeous glasses of a sparkling rose wine were brought out and then the Yellow Beet Cake. The cake was a beautiful, perfect circle with sweetened goat cheese icing and a spoonful of red beet foam, and was topped with a triangle of orange-cardamom tuile cookie. Pieces of peppercorn and cardamom were on the plate as well, which we were told tasted great and advised not to avoid.
The cake itself was moist and rich, and with the pieces of peppercorn and cardamom it was savory and the individual flavors of the ingredients were particularly pronounced. I stand corrected – this was heaven. We savored each bite, which we followed with a sip of the sparkling wine which really brought out the cardamom and certain other flavors in the cake along with adding a delightful bubbly feeling.
The server gave us his card as we finished up – which revealed that he was actually the manager and sommelier. He was friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about all the dishes he recommended (and each were spot-on). He thanked us and suggested we come back for the ‘Chef’s Choice Tasting’ which includes multiple courses and paired wines. We promised we’d return soon – which we intend on keeping.
At some point while we were dining the rain had turned to snow and a light dusting had covered the ground, marking the end of a great dinner.
Want to see more pictures of Wise Owl Wine Bar? We’ll be posting them on our Facebook Page very soon.
Verdict: Relaxed, Classy, Delicious
The Wise Owl Wine Bar is a laid-back, modern wine bar with a full bar, small tables fit for a couple or leather couches and larger tables perfect for a group. The friendly staff embody the theme of being laid-back and also have great suggestions, so do be sure to ask about their recommendations for wine & food.
The food is a bit expensive with small but reasonable portions, so expect to pay a bit more. However the quality, presentation and deliciousness of the dishes more than account for the price.
It’s difficult to review the wine selection itself, since we only had two – however those we sampled were excellent and the second, which was recommended by our server, paired amazingly with the cake it accompanied. The price range per glass/bottle is quite great, but there are wines for everyone from $20 to $200.