Since opening in 2003, The Tasting Room has morphed from a wine bar to a full-service restaurant with four locations—all while retaining its wine-bar charm and racking up numerous awards and accolades. Diners can select libations from a list that boasts more than 200 wines, pairing them with contemporary dishes whipped up by executive chef Jonathan LeBlanc. TTR offerings run the gamut from small plates of mini grilled sandwiches and classic bruschetta to entrees including creole-spiced quail and Jamaican jerk chicken breast, which diners can savor at windowside tables or on the plant-ensconced patio and garden area.
The eatery doesn't just sate hunger for eclectic classics and thirst for fermented grapes. It also hosts live music, meetings, and events such as 2011's Grapes vs. Grains, which pitted beer against wine in a liquid wrestling match. The owners have their hands in other culinary enterprises, too. There's the Houston Cellar Classic, for example, an annual celebration of food and wine. Also popular is MAX's Wine Dive, a destination for gourmet comfort food best defined by its slogan—"Fried chicken and champagne? ... Why the hell not?"
Executive Chef Tyler Voigt’s seasonal menus of duck, salmon, and steak dishes are each constructed with a complementary wine pairing in mind. Protein-packed entrees share plate space with such sides as gruyere scalloped potatoes, creamy polenta, and braised chard. The kitchen staff also festoons sourdough pizza crusts with meatballs, eggplant, and sun-dried tomato pesto. Xenophiles can enjoy more than 60 wines by the glass, 300 wines by the bottle, and one wine by the wheel barrel from locales that include California, Spain, and Germany.
Chef René Peeters is no stranger to cultural diversity, and his menu follows suit. He spent his childhood between the Belgian Congo and southern France, later living in Laos and Greece before finding his throne in Dallas's restaurant scene. Though he's trained in the style of classical French cuisine, Chef René calls upon his well-traveled palate to diversify his cooking style, seasoning dishes with the flavors of passport-stamp inks from around the globe. For nearly two decades, Peeters has helmed the kitchen at Bistro Watel's, serving a menu with foie gras, Lone Star cassoulet, and "Moroccan-ish" chicken tagine. The restaurant's kitchen also hosts a handful of cooking classes that follow themes such as French countryside cooking, sauces, and how to impress a chef in the produce aisle.
After 22 years in the air force, Water 2 Wine–founder John McFadden established his first custom winery in San Antonio seven years ago. Already the business has spread as far as Milwaukee to the north and Denver to the west, bringing the country's vinophiles more than 100 wines, each of which are fermented on site and available for tastings every day. Those who want to get more involved in the crafting process may sign up to make their own wine and steep themselves in each step of the operation, from selecting the grape varieties, beginning the fermentation process, withstanding a wait of about 45 days, and finally christening their creation by smashing a tiny boat against the bottle. All custom-made wines are plastered with personalized labels made from one of Water 2 Wine’s templates or images that customers design from the ground up.
Jerry and Laura Lasco both agreed that they loved trying new restaurants and drinking great wine—but what they didn't like was the pretension that often accompanied these experiences. Taking matters into their own hands, they started Max's Wine Dive as a spot for enjoying carefully curated wines from around the globe in a low-key environment, all complemented by a kitchen that serves gourmet comfort food. The high-quality food and drinks served in a laid-back environment have garnered Max's Wine Dive a good deal of attention. Open for brunch, dinner, and winch—a mid-day meal of wine and more wine—the wine-friendly and wine-forward menu includes highlights such as 'max 'n cheese', Ft. Worth frito pie omelette, and PB&J wings.
Andy Gonzales, AKA Wineaux Guy, set out to create Dallas's finest catering service. With a full-service staff and chef, Great Tastes handles every aspect of food planning, from preparing the meals to cleaning up. They cater all sorts of events, from weddings and birthday parties to cocktail parties, with fixed prices arranged upfront so that clients don't incur hidden fees after a spontaneous food fight erupts. They have developed a wine education course that can be held in clients' living rooms or kitchens, along with wine-tasting tours in the DFW area and around the state of Texas with Texas Wineaux Tours.