Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Friday, August 14, 2015

Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro - Reston, VA

11750 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA
Tel: (703) 234-3550

As the name boldly states, Vinifera is first and foremost a Wine Bar.  Adjacent to the Reston Westin (say it out loud, it's cute), Vinifera's appeal is impossible to pass up. Both inside the restaurant and on the outdoor patio, outfitted with decorative wine barrels and burning fire pits, the setting is most elegant. Eye-pleasing, clean, modern furniture lines, open spaces and frame-perfect sitting nooks as far as the eye can see define a most welcoming ambiance. Just what one would expect from an upscale sophisticated wine bar in one of NoVa's newest communities of Reston.

Vinifera's friendly staff proudly boasts about landing the coveted BEST OF AWARD OF EXCELLENCE given by the Wine Spectator.  After being recognized for the past 5 years in a row with the Award of Excellence, in 2015 Vinifera stepped up a level, scoring the highly respected second-tier "Best Of," awarded only to 973 restaurants across the United States.  A key requirement for this award is a minimum of 350 unique and interesting wines and a superior thematic match of wines to the menu demonstrating several vertical offerings of top wines or breadth across several wine regions, Vinifera has met and surpassed this requirement. This restaurant's wine menu is over an inch thick with 8 pages of wines in tiny print, easily numbering in the hundreds. Cannot imagine a sommelier or a sommelier-wanna-be that could possibly walk away from this restaurant unsatisfied. Wine prices range from the casual social level of about $40 per bottle to the expense account level of over $700 per bottle, appreciated by wine connoisseurs. The wine list is constantly updated to reflect changes in selections and vintages may be subject to change without notice, depending on availability.

Chef John-Michael Hamlet, born and raised locally in Vienna, VA, and educated at the Culinary Institute of America (otherwise known as "the other CIA"), is determined to place Vinifera on the map of best hotel restaurants in the U.S., and the way he is going, he may well succeed very soon. We will certtainly be rooting for him! Seen recently on Fox News, the personable and energetic Chef John-Michael showcased his creativity to the DC metro area audience with an appearance on MyFoxDC hosted by Annie Yu.  He invited everyone to join him at Grill with the Chef every other Friday this summer on the Vinifera patio. The restaurant grows many of its own herbs and spices right there on the patio, such as the parsley for its home-made parsley butter.

What's just as much fun as Grlling with the Chef? Come here on any given Sunday and get any $100 bottle or less for half-price. If you order a bottle that is in the triple digits, save 20%. The $15 minimum food purchase per person requirement should not be hard to meet.

Speaking of food, Vinifera is not only a Wine Bar it is also a Bistro with a selection of a wide range of delicacies with some unusual flavor combinations that are delicious. The word Bistro entered the French language from the Russian, meaning "fast," but there is certainly nothing fast about the food here -- a lot of time, thought and attention goes into its preparation and it must be savored and enjoyed slowly. Since its opening 9 years ago, Vinifera has received various food-related prizes, such as being the First Place Winner in the Taste of Reston 2014 and a multiple-year winner of the Open Table's Diner's Choice award. Well-deserved.

No question, Vinifera has defied the typical humdrumness of hotel restaurants with its innovative food creations and a far-reaching wine list.  Please find below each photograph a description of the plates we tasted here and thoroughly enjoyed.

 Entry awning

 Beautiful outdoor patio

 Elegant dining and lounging area with a bar in the back

 On the photos the restaurant may look empty, but it is far from the case. We remind you, that we typically prefer to avoid photographing diners and displaying them on our blog to protect people's privacy. In some cases, like when restaurants are very crowded, this is impossible to do, but whenever possible, we choose photographs that show the restaurant setting and not necessarily the patrons.

Chef John-Michael Hamlet explains his dishes with warmth, passion and humor.

 Our server Kris holds up the Wine Menu sideways to show its thickness.

 Happy Hour Menu Monday – Friday 4 - 6pm

 Seared Rare Ahi Tuna Crispy Taco with Avocado and Spicy Slaw made with Creme Fraiche and Jalapeno Sauce, paired with an aromatic and flowery Sauvignon Blanc. 

These little tuna tacos were a bit hard to eat as the tuna kept wanting to escape from the shell, but the combination of flavors and textures was mouthwatering. A perfect appetizer or a small plate for $6.

 Twice Cooked Pork Belly topped with Smoked Paprika with Polenta, Parmesan Cheese Croutons and Baby Kale. Paired with a glass of Argentinian Mendoza Malbec. Perfect for an appetizer or a small plate also $6.

Sea Scallop "Sandwich" with Crushed Spring Pea Puree, Crisp Prosciutto and Micro Beet Greens sprinkled with parsley oil. A rich, delicious appetizer or small plate $5.

 Just had to include another picture of this amazing combination.

Delicious crisp Gewurztraminer that accompanied the Scallop Sandwich.

 Bread Basket with Potato Focaccia and Cranberry Raisin bread (not baked on premises) with Parsley Butter that is made in-house with parsley grown on the Vinifera patio.

 Baby Beet and Frisee Salad accented with Pomegranate Vinegar made in-house, Crisp Goat Cheese and a (Potato?) Chip. The beats are baby golden, red and candy stripe / strawberry variety. Paired with a light and fruity French Rose. 

Pan Roasted Sea Bass served atop Bulghar Wheat with Parsley, Tomato, and Lemon Zest with an absolutely to-die-for Buerre Rouge butter sauce. A juicy flavorful garlicky entree that goes for $29 (half-size portion pictured here). It is perfectly paired with a nearly-transparent and light South African Chenin Blanc.

And for dessert.....
Flourless Nutella Torte (another creative invention by the Chef) with a scoop of Chocolate Chipotle Ice Cream (gently kicks you back after the second bite) and a scoop of Dark Chocolate Mousse with relatively low cocoa content, sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts and mint served with an orange slice, pre-peeled for you, for $8. Paired with a 15-year-old Oloroso Sherry called El Maestro, which wonderfully cuts down on some of the dessert's sweetness.

No comments:

Post a Comment