Carrying the praises of OpenTable diners as the winner of Best Overall restaurant, Best Ambiance, and Best Food, Park Café's executive chef Michael Ganley is no stranger to success. He has honed his skills in the kitchen for more than 17 years, most recently as Executive Chef of The Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, Michigan. Arriving in Duluth in 2004, Ganley brought with him his years of experience perfecting European culinary techniques, crafting a menu of elegant twists on Southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes layered with slabs of warm, creamy brie.
Nestled inside the Knox House—originally erected in 1899 for the first Mayor of Duluth, John Knox—Park Café's refurbished interior remains true to the home's 19th-century character. Largely original hardwood floors and paneled walls lend a quaint charm to the romantic simplicity of the dining rooms, where tables draped in crisp linen glow beneath flickering candles and diners’ recently whitened teeth.
In spite of its name, Cellar 56 features more than 56 wines from grape-growing regions throughout the world. The emphasis is on accessibility, though; the bar helpfully sells a number of wines by the half glass, allowing guests to sample a variety of wines for a fraction of the price of a bottle. To make the selection even more accessible, reds and whites are divided into small groups by style. That means that tracking down anything from a crisp, grapefruit-tinged New Zealand sauvignon blanc to a spicy Italian primitivo is as simple as scanning the list. The seasonal food menu of tapas-style small plates demonstrates a similarly eclectic approach. Old-World flavors meet New World comfort in dishes such as the truffle-scented wild-mushroom finger sandwiches on toasted french baguettes. Guinness-braised short rib with whipped potatoes evokes memories of a home-cooked stew and the pan-seared salmon demonstrates a bit more refinement with its coriander-caper glaze. Cellar 56's main seating area seems more like a den than a dining room. Bottles fill the three racks that adorn one wall, presenting diners with a neatly arranged display of wines that stretches from the top of the booths to the ceiling. Dark wooden accents, earthen tiles, and warm lighting contribute to the inviting atmosphere at what CBS Atlanta called one of the Best Wine Bars in Atlanta in 2011.
When Wine Shoe owners Nora and Shannon Wiley started planning the shop's design, they wanted something that would blend their worldly travels with the historic culture of the surrounding Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The result was promptly recognized by Atlanta magazine, which compared Wine Shoe to a "private wine cellar in France stocked with wines from all over the world."
Today, the facility's floor-to-ceiling wine wall stands as a new challenge to rock climbers and as a stunning backdrop to an assortment of wine-related activities, including classes that drew more than 3,000 total students during 2011. Many of those students gathered around Wine Shoe's 12-foot rustic table, where, sitting beneath a glistening bronze and crystal chandelier, they paired sips with scrumptious hunks of education.
The shop carries more than 150 different wines, the majority of which come from small producers. It also keeps its door open to pooches, as Nora and Shannon's security dog, Beeren, is always looking for new buddies with whom to discuss the nuanced flavors of rawhide bones.
Inseparable even in past lives when they were a crime-solving orangutan-golden retriever duo, the Grape's Master Sommelier Jay James and Executive Chef Paul Agnelli aim to match a perfectly-chosen wine with each item on their fresh, seasonal menu. Every dish is made with wine-friendly gourmet ingredients. Settle into The Grape's outdoor patio and start by coupling sharable tasters like the chipotle-shrimp flatbread with cilantro-lime dressing ($10) with a robust red like the Layer Cake's Italian Primitivo ($10/glass), or artfully offset a mezze platter of roasted-garlic hummus, house-marinated olives, and cashew- and goat-cheese-stuffed peppadews ($9) with the crispier Sauvignon Blanc from Joel Gott's Napa vineyard ($7/glass). Likewise, dozens of chardonnays, pinot noirs, aromatic whites, champagnes, Italian wines, and more can make a leggy tango partner to entrées such as the grilled-mahi tacos with jalapeno slaw ($12), the pulled pork with pepper-jack cheese on fire-roasted corn flatbread with kettle chips ($9), or the double-cut New–Zealand lamb chops with portobello cream-cheese mashed potatoes and raspberry-balsamic honey ($24). If you're not fluent in wine jargon or simply overwhelmed by the options, The Grape's winesperienced staff is always eager to offer recommendations and advice regarding your meal or tax problems. Cap off an evening of tattoo comparisons and flirtatious arm-wrestling with a glass of fruity-sweet Muscat Blanc from Italy's Piedmont region ($13).
Today's deal makes it easier to guarantee a kiss after a first date, particularly if your usual method for doing so involves Machiavellian plots-within-plots and requires access to a Bengal tiger: For $20, you get $45 worth of Tuscan-style wining and dining at Taverna. The escaped brainchild of former Florentine Paolo Tondo and master sommelier Jasmin Reyes, the restaurant is a synergetic Italian-American hybrid that combines authentic Tuscan cuisine with an impressive wine list. This ultra-compatible pairing has apparently spawned other romantic couplings; Metromix named Taverna Fiorentina one of the best date restaurants in Smyrna and Vinings.Welling was determined to capture the minds and tongues of the niche—but expanding—market of disco fans. After extensive research, he determined that disco’s sparkling clothing and bouncy rhythms were the culinary equivalent of pasta covered in rich tomato sauce. Welling’s findings were so delicious that disco changed its name to Italy, enraging Italy, which was forced to change its name to Lapland, Home of Full-Blooded Italians. Pick up today’s Groupon for some delicious Italian food from America, prepared by full-blooded Italians from Lapland, Home of Full-Blooded Italians.