Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wine Watch Wine Bar (Fort Lauderdale, FL): A welcome addition to a wine bar desert

Wine Watch is a "boutique" wine retailer located at 901 Progresso Drive in the Flagler Village section of Fort Lauderdale. The store, for me, has been characterized by a lack of external signage, a nondescript exterior, no visible/easily detectable entrance, and, once you enter, a wide range of wines from around the world scattered throughout the darkened interior on a mix of shelves, carts, boxes, etc. That being said, this is one of the few retail establishments in Florida where you can walk in and buy very old vintages off the shelf.

The store is well known for its winemaker dinners and other wine-themed events. Wine-tasting dinners, when held on site, were squeezed into a devoted area in the shop. There is no kitchen so these events were always a logistical challenge.

No more. As of June of this year, Wine Watch has opened an honest-to-goodness wine bar just down 3rd Street from the retail store.

Location of new Wine Watch Wine Bar shown in relation to the
wine shop
I was unaware of this development so when I went to last Thursday's Aldo Conterno dinner, and I got there early, I went into a bar down the street to pass the time. And, as in the case of the retail shop, there was no external signage to alert me to the fact that such an entity existed.

As it got close to the time for the dinner (and I saw no cars outside the retail shop), I called to double check as to where the event was going to be held. I was told at the wine bar across from the retail shop.

As I stepped through the door, this amazing tapestry unfolded before my eyes. Beautiful wood floor; OWC ceilings; front walls adorned with original bottle labels (many signed by producers); cork-and-bottle chandeliers; lots and lots of racks containing neatly stacked bottles; a well-appointed bar to the left front; beautifully appointed and apportioned customer spaces; and, in the distance, a full kitchen.

Wine-label festooned walls

Cork-and-bottle chandeliers

According to Andrew (Lampasone, Proprietor), the bar is open Wednesday to Saturday in the evenings and he is trying to get patrons acclimatized to that schedule. Friday night folks tend to bring great bottles from their cellar to share and Saturday is "Brown-Bag Day" for those willing to participate.

The wines on display in the shelves are available for purchase by the bottle but there is also a phenomenal by-the-glass program. For example, on the night after the dinner, they were going to be serving 1995 L'Evangile out of magnum by the glass. All BTG wines are opened fresh each day.

For our event, a long table was set up to the back left of the bar. The setup was pleasing to the eye. The one shortcoming was a lack of separation between the participants in the dinner and the other patrons. From time to time it was difficult to hear what the winemaker was saying.

I tasted three dishes from the kitchen and each was extremely good.

This is a welcome addition to a wine bar desert with the only other wine bar of substance (now heavily outclassed) in the area being Vienna Cafe and Wine Bar in Davie. I will be visiting this bar frequently.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

No comments:

Post a Comment