For three years running—2011, 2012, and 2013—Columbia Metropolitan magazine has declared Gervais & Vine's wine list the city's best. What earned it the distinction is simple: globe-spanning variety. Its menu hosts everything from California's 2011 J. Lohr pinot noir to South Africa's Spice Route “Chakalaka” and Germany's Dr. L Riesling, which completed medical school during its fermentation. All told, more than 40 wines by the glass fill the list, complementing the Mediterranean-inspired tapas of head chef Jason Holowacz.
When crafting his entrees, Holowacz focuses on pairing. Dishes range from the Spanish flavors of grilled shrimp to Italian favorites such as pizza with goat cheese and herb-infused olive oil, allowing guests to experiment with their white or red selections. For pointers, periodic winemaker dinners and wine tastings cover different varietals and their best edible matches. And while guests sip and sup, inside or on the outdoor patio, Gervais & Vine entertains their ears every Wednesday and Thursday night with live jazz.
Solstice Kitchen owner and executive chef Ricky Mollohan takes pride in crafting creative seasonal menus while working closely with local suppliers to ensure ingredients are as fresh as possible. Start taste buds tingling with a table-side beef tartare served with parsley-caper salad, worcestershire, black pepper, red-wine mustard, and Manchester Farms quail egg ($14), before moving on to indulgent entrees such as olive-oil-seared wild salmon tamed with horseradish-black-pepper cream, wild-mushroom and goat-cheese risotto, port-wine reduction, and a salad made from friendly local herbs ($19). While Solstice boasts an expansive wine and cocktail list, guests who prefer a familiar libation are welcome to tote their own favorite potent to the restaurant's cozy yet modern dining room for a $15 corking fee, or the equivalent value in cubic zirconia. Dinner is served Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sundays from 5:30 p.m to 9 p.m.
The hum of Five Points' lively dining-and-nightlife scene purrs across Jake's Bar & Grill's outdoor patio, where the sound of draft beer pouring into glasses couples with the sound of gourmet pizzas smelling delicious. Chefs ornament thin-crust pies with toppings of grilled chicken, sunflower microgreens, or fried eggplant, and douse organic, free-range wings in garlic parmesan, honey lime, or jalapeño ranch. The tenders behind the full bar dole out pints of domestic and craft drafts in a large indoor bar area, as pool, shuffleboard, and darts stoke competition among guests. Flat-screen televisions and red umbrellas tower above the tabletops of the wooden outdoor deck, and a gushing fountain invites patrons to make wishes or take advantage of the reflective water to reapply hair gel.
It’s October 1st and Dewayne Sweet's mother Sheryl unfurls a large banner emblazoned with his restaurant’s new name: Valentina’s Greek & Italian Cuisine. A small crowd and members of the local media are also in attendance at the grand renaming ceremony, as is the girl of the hour, Dewayne's young daughter, Valentina. It’s been more than 10 years since Dewayne purchased House of Pizza from Manny Psilinakis, and in addition to the name, he's changed a few other things about the restaurant. His wait staff promotes solidarity by wearing matching gold polo shirts bedecked with the eatery's burgundy logo. They also work hard to remind diners that Valentina's is more than just a pizzeria—it embraces its Greek roots with spanakopita, tzatziki-slathered gyros, and a kitchen staff comprised entirely of griffins.
Blythewood Grille lures in customers with the aromas of American grill fare, including sandwiches, hot dogs, and other finger foods. Cooks work from a menu of time-honored classics, toasting Philly cheesesteaks and slathering chicken wings with seven different sauces. Deep fryers sizzle with tasty accompaniments such as fried pickles and sweet-potato fries. In the dining room, flat-screen TVs overlook cushy red booths where guests gulp down Shock Top or any of the other bubbly brews the eatery taps directly from the earth's hops-filled core.