#header-inner {background-position: center !important; width: 100% !important;}

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 Eat and Repeat: Home Wine Kitchen

Pin It
Home Wine Kitchen has been on my radar ever since it's opened last year. In June, we tried to get a reservation when my grandparents were in town visiting, but found it impossible to do so. I then vowed to return, and soon! It took me a good eight months or so, and Ryan's actually the one who surprised me with the reservation, but return we did!

I'd heard nothing but good things about Home Wine Kitchen, so I went in with high expectations. It made the Best New (St. Louis) Restaurants list (and consequently my 2012 Eat and Repeat list), after all. Ryan and I headed there for a 7:30 reservation on a Saturday night. I immediately fell in love with the ambience of the space. Astutely named Home Wine Kitchen, it did indeed feel homey with its dimly lit and cozy atmosphere. Because it was such an intimate setting and every table was full, I was wary of being too obnoxious with the camera (hence the terrible food photos as well). If you're interested in some shots of the beautiful restaurant, check out the Riverfront Times slideshow here.

First things first: the wine. As much as I enjoy drinking wine, I am by no means an expert and can't speak to the actual quality of the wine offered. What I can tell you is that all bottles are $30 apiece and that each day they have a selection of (white and red) wines for $8/glass. Not a bad deal! Ryan and I each selected a glass (Pinot Noir for me, Sangiovese for him) and were both satisfied with our selections.
As soon as our server handed us the menus on heavy, vintage-looking clipboards (a fun feature), she mentioned that the menu changes 100% every week. Therefore she warned us, "If you see something that sounds good, be sure to order it because it'll be gone next week!" A fun concept that's becoming more popular as the eating local trend continues. I was particularly impressed because most restaurants that subscribe to this methodology still keep a few regulars on the menu. I think that speaks to the constant creativity and innovation in the Home Wine Kitchen.
We placed our order and our starter salad came out almost immediately--an arugula salad with blanched vegetables (eggplant, brussels sprouts, and broccoli) tossed in brown butter. Simple, but divine. This might have been my favorite part of the meal. Can you ever go wrong with nutty, brown butter? (I don't think so.)
Our entrees were selected on recommendation from our server, who said the gnocchi and the cassoulet were the two best items on the current menu (which includes about 5 or 6 entrees). Interestingly enough (and I was warned), my gnocchi wasn't the traditional potato dumplings. Instead it was essentially large rounds of a semolina/polenta mixture. They were topped with a generous amount of exotic mushrooms. I am powerless against an abundance of mushrooms on a menu--especially when they're the specialty kind that I'm too cheap to buy regularly! I'm not sure why they even opted to call it gnocchi, but strange naming conventions aside, it was very good. Not the best entree I've ever ordered, but a delightful combination of flavors (and for me, you can do no wrong with mushrooms).
Ryan's cassoulet came in a generous portion that I stole several bites of. It was chock full of duck confit, pork, sausage, and white beans. It was heavy, hearty, and tasty, but nothing out of this world. He called it comfort food, although it was definitely an upscale version of comfort food.
The best part of our main meal was the side dish we shared. Coming in portions large enough for two, we had the choice between cipollini onions in white wine, creamed spinach, or the twice baked potatoes with blue cheese, bacon, green onions, and roasted garlic. I think it's obvious we went with the twice baked potatoes! I managed to finish off more than my fair share of them before Ryan even went in for his first bite. I'm not normally a huge white potato fan (unless it's these gorgonzola smashed potatoes!) but I think I could eat these every day!

After stuffing our faces, we were too full for dessert, although I was tempted by the fig bread pudding. All in all this is a solid restaurant--the service was wonderful, our food was prepared well, and I loved the atmosphere. Next time I'd probably return for lunch or their weekend brunch...the prices didn't quite match our impressions of the food (we paid a little over $100 after tax & tip for the 2 glasses of wine, starter, two entrees, and side dish).

Come back in April to see which dish I try to recreate for the "repeat" portion of my self-imposed challenge!

One Year Ago: Citrus Salad with Ginger Yogurt
Two Years Ago: Steel Cut Oatmeal
Home Wine Kitchen on Urbanspoon