This is a very rare week (the first one in years) in which I’ve been left at home to take care of the pets and work past my usual stopping time. Tonight I decided to take a break and check out Pure Wine Cafe, a new wine bar in downtown Ellicott City. I’d noticed it some time ago while driving and walking down Main Street, had checked it out on the web, and thought it might be a nice place to relax after work. I was not disappointed.
You can read more about it at the Baltimore Sun and Urbanspoon. Pure Wine Cafe (no “The”, thank you very much; they’re inconsistent about using the acute accent, but I’ll do so) also has its menu and wine list online—unless you have an iPhone, since the menu and wine list are in Flash. That’s a major shame, because the iPhone demographic is exactly what Pure Wine Cafe is targeted at: people who like a combination of sophistication and approachability, and don’t mind paying a bit of a premium to obtain it.
When I stopped by the place was not crowded but had enough people there that I didn’t feel lonely. The physical space is intimate, with an air of informal elegance; there’s a U-shaped bar and several small tables. (They have nice aluminum chairs too, maybe the famous Emeco Navy chair or a variant—it’s the sort of place that makes you think of things like that.) Since this was my first visit I put myself at the mercy of the staff, and was fortunate to get some great recommendations from the sommelier, Mark Bowman. I went with his advice and had the roasted rosemary fennel paired with a glass of Fuente Milano 2008 and the honey-whipped chevre paired with a glass of Klemens Weber Riesling Halbtrocken 2007 (if I recall correctly). (Incidentally, I very much appreciate Pure Wine Cafe selling wine in 2 oz. glasses; I’m not up to drinking a lot of wine, and think it’s a much better approach than restricting myself to a single 5 oz. glass.)
The first pairing was pretty near perfect. I like fennel and absolutely love pancetta lardons; it was a great savory experience and the Fuente Milano complemented it very well. The second pairing was a tad on the sweet side; nice, but not as transcendent as the first. Since I wasn’t looking to make this a major meal I stopped there in terms of food. They have a few desserts (not listed on the web site, I don’t know why), but it’s the sort of place that really calls for a dessert wine, so I had a 2 oz. glass of La Malaga from Tenuta La Meridiana (I think—again, the dessert wines and other after-dinner drinks aren’t listed on the web site).
The total bill came to just over $30 including tip, and in my opinion was well worth it; if I get a chance sometime I’ll definitely go back. They have a (small) selection of beers and a full bar, so if JessieX can get around to scheduling another blogger cocktail party (hint, hint!) I think it would be the perfect place to have one.