Saturday, July 18, 2009

The In Spot Lounge

Thanks to my wine friend, Angie Ortmann aka STLWineGirl, I got the chance to attend another wine and food pairing at a new hip restaurant called The In Spot Lounge in the Delmar Loop. http://www.inspotlounge.com/

I rarely get to visit restaurants when they first open and this pairing took place about 3 weeks after they opened. The inside is just beautiful and I was wishing I had brought my camera. But it is still an intimate cafe with a small stage and the kitchen area is wide open right in front of customers! The perfect color of chocolate brown on all of its wall...it definitely says groovy dessert bar and lounge. hehe

This tasting's theme was strawberries since we are in the middle of summer. David, the owner and chef, came up with a brilliant menu to incorporate strawberries with each of his courses. Not to mention each of the courses were generous helpings so that I got a full meal out of the evening for only $15! (I did spend an extra $5 on a raffle ticket and won a bottle of wine!)

First course was a Sua Strawberry sparking wine which was paired with a raspberry vinagarette salad dressing (on a salad containing strawberries of course). I believe this was everyone's overall favorite wine because it was so sweet and perfect for drinking by the pool. The sparking wine is really infused with real strawberries too!

Second course was a talapia covered with a mustard sauce and strawberries on top. This was probably my favorite but unfortunately, the chef isn't big on fish. It really doesn't go with the rest of his menu. But the mustard sauce really gave an otherwise blande talapia great flavor. Then the strawberries were put on top of the sauce. The sweetness really helped to balance out the tangy-ness of the mustard sauce. Of course a nice white wine was paired with the fish...not too dry but not too sweet, called The Other Wine. It is a mixture of 3 grapes, mostly Chardonnay and Sav. Blanc.

Third course was probably everyone else's favorite because it was cold bow-tie pasta with a light dressing and strawberries on top. This was a great mix because everything was light and chilled. Definitely a good summer meal that isn't heavy. I think it could have used a little MORE dressing...more zip or kick of some kind...and then it would have held up better against the Oregon Pinor Noir that was paired with it. The wine was a dry red and the two didn't work well together. The Pinor Noir would have gone better with the pasta if there was a heavy cream sauce to cut through.

The last two courses were the dessert courses! The first dessert was a white cake...starwberry and pistachio mousse! WOW! Delicious! ANd then you get to put "the drizzle" on! I picked the best one...Spicy Chocolate. I didn't taste enough of the pistachio mousse...but that was totally the best part for sure. The other flavors of drizzle were raspberry and regular chocolate. This was paired with a Moscato D'Asti which is much like a sparking wine since it's a wine with some bubbles. It almost was a little TOO sweet but definitely a good match with dessert. I love Moscato so I have to admit that I did enjoy it.

And the second dessert was the chocolate but it had strawberry mousse inside of it. So when I was expecting a strong chocolate flavor...I got sweet strawberry instead. I think others will like this but I'm too much of a chocolate freak. I want nothing but the chocolate flavor and THEN maybe add some raspberry drizzle on top. This was paired with a real dessert wine, a Madera, which tasted like a brandy or sherry and I just can't drink those. They burn my throat all the way down. I did at least try it. It's supposed to cut the sweetness down but I'd rather have the sweet flavor ANY day. hehe

Unfortunately, the wines often were outdone by the foods they were paired with. Since the menu items were all light, summer items, a couple of the wines were too dry to match up. I do admit that sometimes when you have a sweeter food item, you need a drier wine to calm it down, but in each of these cases, a lighter wine would would have been a better paring. But I know that Angie had to pick the wines on short notice and wine/food pairings are really a great way to try NEW wines that you might not otherwise taste. I know I would never try all the reds or drier wines if it weren't for someone like Angie.

It is also hard to find parking for the In Spot. There IS some parking in the back but you have to drive all the way around the block to access it. So be sure to give yourself some extra time to find the place and parking the first time you go.