Monday, June 27, 2011

Gervais & Vine: Just divine!

G&V has been a favorite of ours for years. Pre-Viv, Neil and I dropped quite a bit of cash at this lovely little wine bar.  We and our friends Anne & Lorne could do so much damage in one evening, we actually had to put ourselves on restrictions for awhile!  We spent so much time at Gervais & Vine, one of the waiters became a client of mine.  Stephen is still working for Kristian at both G&V and Rosso and is surely his right-hand man.  But, post-Viv, we don't get out as often as we used to.  But, every now and then we're able to fit in a little time together and grab some good grub, which is one of our all-time favorite pastimes.

Thanks to my awesome parents (who volunteer to babysit, we rarely have to ask!), we were able to hit G&V this past Friday.  If you've never been to this bar/restaurant, you're really gypping yourself.  They are a wine bar first and foremost.  Kristian is well-traveled and really knows his grapes.  His wine offerings are extensive and he is always discovering and spotlighting something new.  When he first got started, Gervais & Vine's food menu was small:  nuts, cheeses, "spreads"...really good snacks.  He's evolved over the years into a full-blown, authentic Tapas bar.  Not many American tapas bars really even understand what that word means.  Kristian gets it.  He still offers marinated Manchego, smoked almonds and cornichons; delicious spreads, wood-fired pizzas, but also major league fare such as petit filets, seared duck breast, sauteed shrimp, marinated artichokes.  It goes on and on.  But what's most amazing is HOW they are able to make all this deliciousness.  The wood-fire oven is backstage but their main kitchen is behind the bar...literally.  It's unreal how they have been able to make this compact yet functional kitchen behind a standard bar.  You have to see it to fully appreciate what I'm trying to describe to you.

Needless to say, that's where we like to sit.  We are just a few feet from all the action.  As the chef starts a dish, we try to guess which plate he's working on by watching.  Then, of course, we get to see every plate as it's served up, and we consult the menu to read the description and this is usually how we end up deciding what we're going to order!  It's a fun way to select a meal, to be sure.  This past Friday, we ordered three dishes:  parmesan fries with spicy aioli, roasted asparagus with romesco sauce and the smoked gouda, shrimp & bacon spread.  Excuse me, I need a moment here. OMG, these were good choices.

The fries were awesome. I'd heard some friends talking about them and I'd read some other folks' blogs who also raved about them.  The fries were perfectly cooked: crispy, fluffy inside, non-greasy and tossed with parmesan and parsley and served with that incredible spicy aioli.  The asparagus was well-cooked and the romesco was very bright and fresh tasting.  I might add a little salt to make the flavor pop a little more.  I didn't do it though, since I was literally right in front of the chef.  Can you believe I punked out like that?  The spread was also crazy good.  Smoky, creamy gouda with yummy bacon and shrimp flavor mixed in there.  It was served hot with French bread slices, water crackers, cornichons, and grapes.  It was a very attractive plate and we left not a crumb upon it.

Kristian has been on Columbia's restaurant scene for many years now.  He's a wine connoisseur, motorcycle enthusiast, excellent chef and just a plain nice guy who shops at Publix like the rest of us.  If you're a fan of supporting locals, then please keep Gervais & Vine and Rosso on your dining card.  (Rosso is the newer of the two; upscale Italian, hip scene...I'll get into that later!)  And, the fact that so many people, like Stephen, have been there so long, tells me that this business owner is doing many things right!
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