The mood is lively and laid-back within Cuv?e's sleek dining rooms, where guests lounge on cushy red armchairs at intimate candlelit tables. They raise thin flutes of champagne and glasses of specialty martinis over small plates of citrusy seafood ceviche, plump Italian meatballs, and fresh sushi rolls. Others linger over last bites of strawberry cheesecake, a dessert that reporters from NECN lauded as ?simple, light and creamy.?
Uncorked, a new wine bar and bistro, sells 68 varieties of white and red wine in 1 oz., 3 oz., and 6 oz. portions, and juxtaposes each sip with a diverse dinner menu, complete with wine suggestions. The bar uses WineStation technology to seal wines in oxygen-free, temperature-controlled dispensers that ensure freshness 20 times longer than traditional storage and prevent Supreme Court justices from mixing all the wines in one glass and daring each other to drink it. Bottles date from 1967 to the present, and two 100-point wines are offered in selections as small as an ounce. Elegant entrees, such as the Pad Thai Provencal—which mingles Lola duck or shrimp with pad thai noodles, scallions, carrots, walnuts, garlic, and curry sauce—complement whatever artful grape-mash you gravitate toward ($22). Uncorked's full bar also lubricates creaky conversations with carefully stirred cocktails and carefully shaken beer.
Glasses lift into a treble-laden symphony of toasts and from a distance, many of the elixirs they contain seem nearly the same. Up close, 28 wines by the glass and more than 75 unique varietals by the bottle span a rainbow of hues, from reds deep and earthy enough to appear almost black to white wines barely kissed with a delicate straw color. In The Hidden Vine Wine Bar and Lounge's dedicated room for tastings and classes, guests further hone noses and taste buds to make nearly imperceptible distinctions in flavor and bouquet.
Drawing upon family recipes held close to their hearts, culinarians fill two dining areas with inventive dishes including bruschetta draped in paper-thin soppressata, peach honey, and hanger steak. Beneath diamond-shaped burgundy paintings, forks chatter against plates of fresh pasta and patrons sidle up to the marble bar for a chilly cocktail. A patio begs diners to let the warm sun aid in digestion or in calming outraged bulls delivering pamphlets to the eatery's crimson ceilings.
Ballou?s Wine Bar revolves around three prized delicacies: chocolate, wine, and coffee. From those staples, dozens of indulgent dishes ensue, including chocolate, Nutella, and peanut-butter-chocolate fondues and homemade truffles developed by Debbie, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs Ballou?s. Her chocolate fondue and homemade truffles are so deliciously decadent that they?ve earned the wine bar a spot on the Best of New Haven Reader?s Poll list for best desserts. In addition to rich desserts and froth-capped cups of cappuccino, guests can order wines from local and international vineyards, as well as a wide selection of pastas, sandwiches, and flat breads.
Voted the area's best place for tapas in 2012 by readers of the Valley Advocate, Ibiza Tapas Wine Bar swells with the aroma of Spanish small plates crafted by owner Sonia Blanco's culinary team. They craft traditional dishes with ingredients sourced from local farmers when available, serving up fried spiced potatoes and spanish veal and pork meatballs alongside modern creations such as tempura zucchini served with romesco sauce. Their menu also includes paellas, fideuas, and gluten-free, Catalan-style cr?me br?l?e, which guests can wash down with beer, sangria, or a wealth of white and red wine options from the dramatically lit stone bar. Orange and burgundy walls enliven Ibiza's lounge-like dining room, adding a celebratory spark to dinners, birthday get-togethers, and peace conferences between rival roller-skating crews.
By the eatery's own admission, the food at The People's Kitchen "is not fussy." But one look at the menu, which matches wines with such succulent eats as crispy polenta with roasted red pepper and parmesan and hearty lamb pie filled with roasted leeks and shiitake mushrooms, demonstrates the quality of its ingredients and the thoughtfulness that goes into its preparation. Continuing in this vein, The People?s Kitchen's in-house charcuterie program butchers and dry ages meat onsite.
The same attention to detail pours into the cocktails and wine at Citizen Wine Bar, a cocktail bar featuring classic and signature drinks made from a wide selection of top-shelf liquor. Order a Bicycle Clown and you'll be putting your trust in a Principle Bartender, who will tailor-make a new cocktail on the spot.