There’s a lot to like at Sixty Vines. Especially if you enjoy trying new wines. Last night I dropped in to check it out.
The space is enormous. Long communal tables span across the main dining room. There is a bar to the left where you can plop down in a wicker chair and watch the action in the kitchen. Another bar runs along the back wall which is where they keep the on-tap wines and beers. The place was a little over half full and voices and laughter pinged off the hard surfaces of the interior. I can only imagine how loud it is when it’s packed. However, they offer a side room with a fireplace which is more intimate.
Sixty Vines is the latest from Front Burner Restaurant Group. The folks who run The Ranch at Las Colinas, Velvet Taco, Whiskey Cake, Twin Peaks, Mexican Sugar, and Ida Claire. Thanks to them, hungry and thirsty people in the northern suburbs have dining options that aren’t chain restaurants (yet).
But I went to try the wine. I’m a fan of wine bars, even worked at one in 1976. I love to interact with people and share new or old wine experiences. I was curious to try the eco-friendly wine on tap at Sixty Vines. It’s a marvelous concept: wines are kept in temperature-controlled kegs and dispensed without oxidation. Wine and good for the planet is a nice pairing.
I counted about 36 wines spigots. The menu has a brief description of the wines available along with a user friendly choice of sizes. You can order three pour options: 2.5-ounce, 5-ounce, or 8-ounce. They also offer a list of bottles on a mini-iPad. Wines are organized from leanest to boldest.
We hadn’t planned to eat at Sixty Vines, but the food menu seduced us. Sitting in the back among the taps creates an atmosphere that begs the customer and the wine server to chat about wine. But our server was a total bore. My friend described him as dour.
I tried to engage him in conversation. Without a smile, he asked, “Is this your first time in?” We nodded. He launched into a brief, rehearsed explanation of the wine program. He looked left and right, not at us. “Well, you certainly have some wines I haven’t seen on other lists,” I said, in an effort to let him know this wasn’t my first wine bar rodeo. He looked at me and said nothing.
I made another pass. “So what do you recommend?” I asked. “Are there any hidden gems here?” He took a deep breath and uttered: “One thing I barely ever do is to recommend to people that I haven’t served before because I don’t know what they like.”
Really? You are standing before a wall of wines with a chance to sell me something unique and make a customer for life and you show no interest in discovering my palate and pairing it with something new? That’s the spirit of a wine bar. Instead, he poured our wines, set them before us, and left.
Another server brought us a plate of lovely meatballs and a pile of delicious tapioca-dusted zucchini with peppadew peppers and cilantro all tussled in a sweet chile vinaigrette. I could eat that zucchini every day for the rest of my life. Our check was delivered, signed, and returned to the server who never offered a thank you. For the first time in many years, I wrote “you could have said thank you” on the bill.
I wanted to stay and play, but I didn’t want to interact with Mr. Dour Grumpy. I’ll go back and try to find a server who will play wine with me. Because that’s what wine people do.