Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friday evening at Somerville Wine and Cheese

On Friday evening Charles and I made plans to meet up with our friend Brenna at Somerville Wine and Cheese on 107th and 124th Street. Calling earlier in the day we secured a reservation for 6:30pm and arrived (a little late) to a bright, open space and a friendly greeting at the door.

Seated at one of the tables for four lining the north side of the room, we decided on four dishes that would be shared tapas style and asked that they recommend a bottle of red to compliment our selections. They came through with a spicy bottle of Dehesa Gago Cosecha from Spain (~$42) that went really well with all our dishes, especially the Spanish inspired 'grilled cheese' and the red wine and tomato braised bison short ribs.

Our server explained that each option on the menu could be ordered as an entree or as an item to be shared. We selected the latter option and everything came out together after a few sips of wine and a short wait.

Lox in the front and the Spanish Manchego 'grilled cheese' ($14) served open-faced in the back. With Charles out of the grilled cheese situation, it was left for Brenna and I. We both enjoyed this take on the sandwich, especially the bites containing spicy, smoky chorizo.

 The Lox (~$17). This was a welcome classic, and in comparison to our other dishes, was certainly the lightest thing to grace the table.

Red wine and tomato braised bison short ribs (~$22). Along with the pork belly, this dish was the hit of the table. The meat was tender, slightly spicy and smoky.

 Cider braised pork belly with caramelized onions and apples and fennel cream (~$15). This dish was rich but incredibly flavourful. The pork was soft and tender, the fennel cream was rich yet bright and fresh, which worked well with the pork, and the apples and onions provided a satisfying level of sweetness.

After indulging in the savory side of the menu we opted to share the restaurant's single dessert offering between the three of us - a goat cheese and blackberry blancmange prepared by Duchess ($9). The blancmange was creamy and tangy and the blackberry compote provided a rich, sweet contrast. My favourite part of this dessert was the spicy (ie. cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) poached pear.

Service throughout the evening was attentive and friendly, with water glasses topped up regularly and dishes promptly cleared. Lingering for awhile, the space was certainly comfortable. And despite the large birthday party happening on the banquette side of the room, we had no problem carrying on our conversation. At one point a party guest stood up and sang a great rendition of 'What a Wonderful World' to the birthday girl, and it turned out to be a real treat for us too (we weren't too fond of the restaurant's music selection throughout the evening, which seemed a little heavy on the classical side of things, and thus a little too formal for the space and atmosphere).

At the end of the evening the three of us agreed that our visit to Somerville Wine and Cheese was certainly successful. With a comfortable space, friendly staff, knowledgeable wine pairings and well executed dishes, we are definitely looking forward to our next visit.

Somerville Wine and Cheese
10723 124 Street
Hours: T-W (4:30-11PM) Th-Sa (4:30PM - 1AM) Su-M (Closed)
Somerville Wine Room on Urbanspoon

A blurry picture from the end of the evening.


Isabelle said...

Looks great - nice to see a review Marianne!

I have to say, though, the prices for the small plates seem really steep. I visited their website and it has no prices for wine or food, which always kind of worries me.

Marianne and Charles said...

Thanks, Isabelle. They're definitely a bit strange to write these days :)

I was a little worried about the lack of prices too, though Urban Spoon hinted at the $15-25 range. We thought the plates were fairly well portioned for the price (and I think the most expensive plate was the cheese/charcuterie for $24). But we found that the menu sort of assumes you will be ordering several dishes. I can't see anyone eating that entire plate of pork belly, for instance.

We thought $40 for the wine was pretty good. They did have quite the range of prices on the menu, starting around $35 and going up to a couple hundred. But it would definitely be nice if they posted some prices on their website, as well as something about making reservations.

Cheers, Isabelle! BTW, did you guys get to Brian Jungen?