To help visitors navigate its staggering list of more than 200 international wines, Robust Wine Bar & Caf? implements the Robust Factor?a system that categorizes quaffs by aspects such as flavor profile strength, dryness or sweetness, and tannins. These bottles are then grouped into eight categories ranging from "bubbles" and "crisp" to "sweet," and yes, "robust." It's this attention to detail that's helped earn the European eatery accolades such as a Sauce Magazine Reader's Poll award for Favorite Wine Bar in 2012 and a pair of OpenTable Diner's Choice awards.
And yet Robust's owners realize that wine, much like an actor playing Spartacus, isn't always meant to stand alone. Each of the cafe's three St. Louis-area locations pairs its bottles with a spread of charcuterie and shareable plates. Artisan cheeses from the Midwest and the Mediterranean are served alongside morsels of Spanish chorizo and dry-aged, salt-cured beef. Meanwhile, chefs craft internationally inspired bites such as house-cured salmon semi-crudo, herbed pork tenderloin, and shrimp and grits. On some nights, glasses clink and forks scrape plates in tune with live music performances?one of the many types of events hosted at the neighborhood retreat.