Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft

The Food Baby bottom line:
  • Marrownaise.  Enough said. 
  • Amazing, wine-friendly food at this South Park gem rivals any fine dining restaurant in town.
  • Recipe for a fabulous Saturday:  lunch at The Wine Shop followed by a wine tasting!
At the suggestion of our new homeboys, The Charlotte Burger Bloggers, we recently checked out The Wine Shop at Foxcroft.  After their detailed description of the MARROWNAISE – yes, that is bone marrow mayonnaise – we knew we had to go (click here for their review).  So, I asked Lauren out for a Saturday lunch date in honor of her birthday and we made our dream a reality.

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft is both wine store and wine bar/restaurant.  I was shamefully unaware first that they served food, and second that it was so incredible.  I did know that they carry an impressive selection of artisinal and hard to find/limited release wines at all price points.  My kinda place!  During the day, the space is light and inviting.  There are beautiful natural wood wine racks lining the walls and gorgeous wooden floors.  The bar is off the kitchen and faces the dining area, curving gracefully around to end at the edge of another wine filled room.  I understand that the bar is getting a bit of an upgrade with taps being installed for select craft beers.  They already have an impressive craft bottled selection, and I think the taps will be a great addition.

When I arrived (5ish minutes late…sorry Lauren), Lauren had already been greeted by the owner, Conrad Hunter.  Conrad was extremely friendly, welcoming and is clearly very knowledgeable about all things wine.  We were the only diners there for lunch at the time, but from what I hear it gets fairly packed in the evenings.  This arrangement suited me just fine, because we could (and did) monopolize lots of Conrad’s time!  Lauren had already placed an order for the Charcuterie plate, so the next step was wine selection.  We put ourselves in Conrad’s more than capable hands and he suggested we start with some bubbly (we were celebrating after all!) and eventually worked our way up to a bold California cab.  Each wine was spot on and matched the food very well. 

Charcuterie Plate
We tucked into our Charcuterie plate, which had three meats (hot sopresata with fennel, cappicola and an 18 month aged proscuitto) and three cheeses (a blue, a creamy goat and a very interesting honey and sea salt washed cheddar).  Walnuts, dried cherries and large flatbread crackers accompanied the dish.  This plate was slammin’!  I gripe sometimes about weak charcuterie plates – either lacking in components, quality or imagination – but that was not the case here.  Lauren’s favorites were the blue cheese and the hot sopresata, while I was really into the sweet/salty cheddar and the proscuitto.

As we started to narrow down (or should I say, marrow down…hehe) the rest of our food choices, we were pleasantly surprised to have Chef Zack Gadberry come to our table to give us more insight on the menu.  Zack is a Johnson & Wales grad who has worked at some great Charlotte restaurants and is now at the helm at The Wine Shop.  In the relatively short time he has been at The Wine Shop, Gadberry has elevated the menu offerings to a focused and well-rounded selection of delicious, wine-friendly food.  Click here for the full menu. 

When I mentioned to Chef Zack that I wanted to try the Beef Carpaccio, he advised they had a Boar Carpaccio special.  Done.  We also ordered the House-Made Steak Burger with gouda cheese added.  The Boar Carpaccio lived up to all my expectations and then some.  The meat was very delicate, and was topped with a walnut vinaigrette, thinly sliced apples and microgreens.  The dish was perfectly seasoned and the flavor of the vinaigrette was earthy and nutty.

Boar Carpaccio

Next, our Burger arrived.  A few immediate observations on the burger – it is big (~12 oz. according to Charlotte Burger Blog), it is meaty (only the finest house-ground steak here) and it is a loving plateful of melt-in-your-mouth-juicy-drippy-fun.  Because of all the talk of marrownaise (I am smug/a bit embarrassed to admit that I asked Chef Zack if it could be purchased in bulk because I wanted to bathe in it), our burger was thoughtfully served with a side of marrownaise IN ADDITION to the short-rib aioli that normally comes on the dish.  The burger also had melty gouda cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pea shoots.  All this goodness was served on a house-made pretzel bun.  About the marrownaise – this meaty, salty, creamy condiment was sooooo freaking good – it definitely took the burger to a whole new level.  I’m not sure if Chef Zack invented marrownaise, but in any case he should patent it and produce it for the meat-loving masses.  Our only minor criticism of the burger was that it could have used an element to cut through all the rich flavors – perhaps some whole-grain mustard, or just more of the red onion?  But I am nitpicking here…

Aerial view of Burger
Burger with Marrownaise!

As a bonus, Chef Zack sent out some ridiculously tasty Home Fries – potato wedges that had been cooked in duck fat and seasoned with oregano, parmesan cheese, sea salt and truffle oil.  Not exactly figure friendly, but who the eff cares?  In case you are wondering, why yes – the home fries ARE delicious when dipped in marrownaise!

Home Fries

We wrapped up lunch, thoroughly satisfied and both carrying modestly-sized Marrowbabies.  This is a most specific Food Baby that can possibly only be acquired at The Wine Shop (unless you have the urge to slow roast your own marrow bones and make homemade aioli).  I encourage you all to go forth and conceive your own Marrowbabies – I promise that you won’t be sorry.  I also encourage you to check out The Wine Shop for your next special occasion bottle of wine or for an everyday vino.  They have a great selection and Conrad will not steer you wrong.  Also, stop in for one of the weekly wine tastings (every Saturday from 1-4pm) plus keep an eye out for upcoming special events.  Click here for more details!

- Brianna

Blissful happiness!

The Wine Shop at Foxcroft on Urbanspoon

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