A person's choice of drink says a lot about them, though admittedly not as much as the fact that they're drinking it from a handmade amphora carved from the crystal skull of a hippogriff. Today's grapey Groupon lets you ooze sophistication and effortless worldliness from every pore without requiring immediate medical attention. For $20, you'll get $40 worth of pours and plates at Versai The Wine Bar, a Euro-like hot spot in Yorba Linda that specializes in rare sips, small plates, and nightly re-creations of Hannibal crossing the Alps using shadowpuppets. Versai The Wine Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Phlight's servers pilot plates of traditional Spanish mini meals, bottles of boutique wines, and glasses of international beers between high-rise tables under a roof anchored by rustic wooden rafters. Splash in the savory waters of seafood selections, including tiger shrimp ($14), stuffed squid ($6), and roasted John Dory ($12), whose eye spot observes diners to see if they know the difference between a salad fork and a tuning fork. Poultry dishes abound, wrapping succulent duck meat into soft tacos ($7) and igniting chicken wings with adobo spice ($8), and short ribs mind their beefy business under a sweet sprinkling of brown sugar and ginger ($18). Herbivorous hankerings plant themselves on crispy lentils ($6) or sautéed bok choy ($4), and asparagus ($8), cuddling under the calescent cover of serrano peppers to subvert chilly glares from the ice water.
Though freedom to choose your own pairings is good for believers in true love and eclectic décor, professionally paired flavor combos showcase the best qualities of each ingredient. A retail shop outfitted with a handsome tasting bar, California Wine and Cheese stocks wines produced exclusively in California, regularly consisting of over 200 selections. Wine flights consist of four to five samplings and change every Friday, giving customers a chance to gain a broad appreciation for all kinds of wine. If you've already sampled one or more wines from the flight, just wait a week and new choices of red or white wine will magically appear. To complement the characteristics of each wine, a sampling of imported and domestic cheeses accompanies each flight. Because California Wine and Cheese sells the goods to take home, you can purchase the wines and cheeses you like best to re-create the pairings at home for dinner guests and culinarily curious cats.
redwhite+bluezz, a nightly confluence of wine, contemporary American cuisine, and live jazz music, won the Best Live Music Club and Best Wine Selection awards from Pasadena Weekly in 2011. Divided into The Grill and The Vintage Room, the decorated eatery fuels feasts with a menu of grilled beef, seafood, and chicken dishes alongside platters of artisan cow, sheep, and goat cheeses and trays covered in charcuterie, some cured in-house. Seasoned sommelier Russ Meek complements the eats by crafting his signature flight menus, which offer pairing suggestions from the expansive wine list, 40 of which are available by the glass. Sounds of humming horns, rattling drums, and strumming guitars reverberate in the jazz club, where heralded local musicians perform every night and during Sunday brunch. Dedicated to enriching entertainment, redwhite+bluezz hosts a slew of monthly events, including 90-minute flight school sessions that document the history, background, and embarrassing middle school stories of local wines.
Like the woman from whom it takes its name, Roxolana Restaurant captures the imagination. An Ottoman empress in the 16th century, the Ukrainian-born Roxolana earned fame and adoration by rising from slave to sultan's wife, then to puddle of borscht. Her namesake restaurant evokes the olden days with a décor of traditional Ukrainian folk art such as rushnyk, or hand-embroidered towels, and oberig, or decorative wreaths.
Roxolana Restaurant's father-son team of Ukrainian chefs grill succulent meats, lace dishes with housemade spicy cayenne-tomato sauce, and whip up desserts such as red-wine mousse. They match their traditional dishes with barbecue ribs and light lunch fare. A generous selection of wines and beers refreshes throats parched from struggling to pronounce entree selections.
The Nose Wine Bar collects rare and unusual vintages from across the globe, pairing bouquets with a range of hot and cold small plates amid the soft light of flickering candles. A rotating wine menu culls the creations of French, Italian, and Californian vintners and includes three-wine-tasting flights to tempt indecisive diners and three-headed wine critics alike. Rows of gleaming bottles line the walls as creamy leather seating surrounds intimate two- and four-person tables. On Friday and Saturday, live musicians vibrate wineglasses and awaiting eardrums with solo melodies.