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Monday, August 15, 2011

Wine Dinner at Niche Bar and Grill

Niche Bar and Grill on Siegen Lane recently hosted an "Around the World" Wine Dinner.  The seating area had been transformed into a white table cloth dining room and I immediately became excited about the efforts of Ause, the owner, and his staff.  I knew this dinner would be an improvement over the previous wine dinner I attended at Niche, but I didn't know how much better.

The wonderful Lauren Michaud joined me for the evening of food and wine.  Appetizer number one featured what Niche called "Tapas de Brie."  Pretty much a version of bruschetta, the slices of toasted bread were topped with tomato slices and melted Brie then drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and rosemary.  The dish had great flavors that worked very well together.  For a small plate or an hors d'oeuvres it did the trick.  I didn't quite get the pairing with the Argentina Malbec as the Tapas de Brie seemed more Italian than Argentinean or even Spanish, but, what the heck, its all Latin, right?

Tapas de Brie
Graffingna Malbec
Appetizer two included Oysters Portofino paired with a glass of Bottega Vanaia Pinot Grigio.  The oysters were breaded and covered with a spicy basil red sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.  The wine pairing on this course was right on target.  The oysters themselves were decent, but the sweetness and acidity of the wine that matched the tomato sauce is what really made the dish work.

Oysters Portofino
Bottega Vanaia Pinot Grigio
The first entree course emerged as by far my favorite dish of the day.  A blackened redfish filet sat on top of a deliciously fried eggplant slice.  Both the redfish and eggplant were smothered in Niche's signature spicy crawfish cream sauce.  The Hess Chardonnay matched extremely well with the trio of fish, eggplant and cream sauce.  The textures and flavors of every aspect of this plate struck my taste buds in a harmonious symphony.  This is the best dish that I've had at Niche, which made me really happy!

Redfish Feliciana
Hess Chardonnay
The lamb dish, our fourth course, is the one that I most eagerly anticipated.  The frenched lamb chops were covered in a mustard-mint demi-glace and served with rosemary red potatoes.  In another very appropriate wine pairing, the lamb came served with a glass of French Pinot Noir.  While I really liked the lamb, it didn't quite match the previous redfish plate.  The mustard-mint demi-glace fell short of being a stunning sauce with the lamb.  I enjoyed it, but it didn't quite work perfectly for me.

Lamb Chops
Louis Jadot Pinot Noir
The meal wrapped up with tiramisu and a glass of Port.  I again found it odd to pair an Italian dessert with a Portuguese wine, though they did work fairly well together.  I think a glass of Prosecco or another Italian dessert wine may have been more appropriate.  Still, the dessert tasted pretty good and the I'm a big fan of Port, so I left the dinner very happy!

Tiramisu
Fonseca Porto
Thanks to Niche for continuing to put on these dinners of assorted beverages.  I very much applaud the efforts to bring a dinner like this to a more casual dining atmosphere.  This wine dinner proved to be worth every penny.  I found some of the international pairings a little odd, but in the end they worked well enough to ensure that everyone had good food, good wine, and a great time!  And I think that Redfish Feliciana might be on the menu now or at least run fairly often as a special.  Do yourself a favor and go try that!