also is with dating. You want the safety of shared and pleasurable
experience, accented by the danger of giving up the essence
of oneself to another. I know no way better to achieve that
than with a splendid meal.
Kevin Everleth took over the business at 200 Lark St. late
last year, reimagining the space that once had been Antica
Enoteca. The warren-like labyrinth has small tables in every
corner, their burnished wood complementing the stark brick
walls. And I do mean small: a trio of tapas plates and a few
glasses of wine will cover the surface.
no need to dive into your dinner all at once. This is about
sipping and nibbling, studying the menu throughout the evening
to explore your successive culinary whims. My strategy is
to start with a small but varied selection of something.
makes good antipasto good is exuberance: that seemingly incongruous
array of ingredients climbs all over each other like kittens
to cry out their flavors. You sample the sopressata, letting
its husky earthiness fill your mouth, and that inspires a
craving for the bitterness of an olive. The sweetness of a
roasted red pepper. The crunch of a pistachio.
at the Wine Bar, the antipasto ($12) features a single meat,
the abovementioned sopressata. Although it’s nice to contrast
that with a pungent sliver of prosciutto or such, I like the
intimacy of contrast among the accompaniments. Having been
so often dizzied by a symphonic abundance of meats and cheeses,
this is like chamber music. Fresh mozzarella is the single
cheese; roasted garlic and pepperoncini add some snap, figuratively
speaking, and the haricots beans do that job literally.
so much that’s delicious, processed meats rely on fat to convey
flavor. So it is with duck confit, an ancient style of preservation
that cooks and then stores a tasty leg in a bath of duck fat.
As served here ($15), it was accompanied by homemade applesauce,
an inspired touch, with a drizzle of grape must reduction.
menu items range from $6 to $19, following the tapas philosophy
of keeping the plates small, simple and shareable. It also
included an arugula salad ($10), an olive mélange ($6), escargot
Bourguignon ($7), littleneck clams and andouille sausage ($12),
steamed PEI mussels ($9), pan-seared hanger steak ($18) and
sesame-encrusted yellowfin tuna ($19).
a daily specials list, which on one visit featured frog legs
Provençal ($9), braised lamb shank with garlic mashed potatoes
($19), sautéed tenderloin tips ($9) and a couple of items
we explored in more detail (by having them placed before us
in exchange for the appropriate amounts of money).
with pesto cream and grana padano ($12) is, these days, a
straightforward enough choice, so what can the Wine Bar offer
that’s distinctive? Nothing more than that it’s done really
well, without relying on an overabundance of cream or cheese
to make its point. It’s one of those safe choices that still
offers the kitchen a chance to show off.
jerk ribs are ever and always irresistible. At $6, they’re
essential. At the Wine Bar, they’re excellent, rich with the
flavor of so many spicy aromatics. Cinnamon, allspice, basil
and thyme, and just for good measure, a passonfruit purée.
Again, a simple presentation, but a sensory-intensive experience,
for which a glass of wine is demanded.
of the latter fills both sides of an extra-large page, with
most selections available by both bottle and glass, the latter
ranging from $7 to $13, or up to $16 if you’re sipping fine
bubbly. A $7 Prosecco suited me fine to start with, and I
didn’t get farther thereafter than the white-wine choices
(an Italian blend of viognier, chardonnay and grecanico, for
$8, proved a versatile accompaniment).
lists wine by the grape, which is my preferred approach, and,
like the menu, is shrewdly emphasizing the affordable.
qualified these days to recommend a place as a dating destination?
I doubt it. Desirable though I may be, I’ve been out of circulation
for a quarter-century, and the lucky woman who grabbed me
shows no signs of letting go. So we yielded the attractive
outdoor tables to those who more likely to profit from warm
breezes and whatever sounds of nature Lark Street enjoy.
stretching back at a corner inside table, enjoying the warming
blend of wine and dinner, we felt once again as if all things
were possible and life was a finely tuned Porsche awaiting
our command. Can you ask for more from an evening meal?