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Crop’s Minor Delight – a Pinot Noir

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On a very chilly evening MrWineOH and I ventured out to Crop Bistro to see what the talk was all about. One of the new additions to the restaurant scene in Ohio City – we were excited to sit at the chef’s table and partake of some delicacies.

I want to hit the highlights on the food, because the real story was a beautiful pinot noir I encountered. When we were seated at the Chef’s Table, which is a beautiful granite bar in front of the kitchen – we weren’t sure what to expect. But we were quickly treated to a gift from the kitchen. As an amuse bouche, we received this gorgeous egg on a little plate. The Chile Deviled Egg ($4 for 3 or $8 for 6) is a taste bud delight! I highly recommend them. Did I mention that sometimes they are pink? Yeah, you’d think that’d be a little freaky, but the flavor is incredible.

Another highlight was the Cherry Bomb – a little culinary genius that closely resembles a deep fried onion, but in reality is a wonton wrapped combination of plum tomato, chorizo sausage, jack cheese, and corn. This appetizer as shown is $8 and worth every penny. Cutting into it is a beautiful sight and the flavors blend beautifully.

One great thing we found is that a few appetizers a piece were filling and the perfect way to taste several of their signature dishes. I would not recommend the chef’s table though. The way you are seated makes the waitstaff reach around you to set plates or refill a wine glass. Its awkward.

Speaking of wine!

Sean Minor Carneros 2010 Pinot NoirAfter much consternation over the wine list, and the obvious frustration of MrWineOH and our server… I selected the 2010 Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir. List price is $42 there.

All I can tell you is – its absolutely lovely! Cherry, plum, a bit of blueberry – and nicely balanced spice and earthiness on the finish. While this pinot noir is aged 10 months in 100% French oak of which 20% is new – there isn’t overwhelming oak on the palate. I could smell the oak – but it was beautifully integrated into the flavors.

For my wine geek readers, this is a blend of Pommard and Dijon clones sourced from Carneros vineyards.

And at 13.5% abv (alcohol by volume) it isn’t overwhelming on the alcohol, even at this young age. Don’t get me wrong – it is a bit hot – but it mellowed nicely on day two –  after the server was nice enough to recork the half bottle I had remaining. This is definitely one I’d decant, or at least let sit in the glass for a while before sipping.

I see this paired with many dishes, but its not light enough for seafood – definitely a medium bodied wine for heavier white meat dishes or pasta. Don’t go crazy with italian spices with this – you will lose the beautiful subtlety of the fruit.

The winery sells this for $22 – I haven’t seen it in local shops, but the distributors have it in Ohio, so ask for it! Its a good buy at retail.

Now, will we be returning to Crop Bistro for a full meal? The jury is out on that. The other apps we had were okay, but not fabulous – and even though we spent what we’d typically spend for a night out – the great wine and the company made the evening, not the location. For a business dinner – I think it works – for a regular night out? Maybe not.

*** We’ve got some great events coming soon! Beer and Cupcakes THIS Sunday – tickets still available. And Wine and Cupcakes – West Side – White Wines for Spring – on March 22 – tickets available here!

Also – Our very first East Side Wine and Cupcakes will be April 28 at The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights – those tickets will be up soon!  ***


WineOHs Cuvée* – WineOHs Night Out

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This is the way we usually choose a place for dinner.

Me: “I’m making (fill in no effort, unexciting meal) for dinner.” Him: “Hmm…. what about going out?”

One of us: “I’m already sipping a (whiskey, beer, glass of good wine) – so it has to have a good selection of (same beverage)”

And that’s the end of it. No mention of what kind of food – most any place we go in Cleveland is going to be good stuff.

This particular night out was our first snow of any significance in the city, and we knew we were wanting to stay close, so we decided to head to Bar Cento in Ohio City for wine and hand tossed pizzas. (Shock – we were both sipping a glass of pinot noir when we had this conversation)

I knew the wine list was good, and thin crust gourmet pizza just sounded yummy.

When I say we went early, it was probably 6:30pm when we arrived and there were only a handful of people in the front room or in Bar Cento itself. The server was prompt and helpful – even if she did talk to my partner about the wine selections as if I wasn’t sitting there. Bless her heart.

Our wine selection was Steltzner Claret Bordeaux ‘08, at $35.  A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc – its a pretty big wine, with well balanced tannins. Nice cherry, cinnamon and clove on the palate. Its spent 22 months in Mixed French Oak, so this is oakier than I usually like. Steltzner LabelBut with our Big Board – charcuterie, cheeses and house pickled vegetables for $18, it was an excellent balance. We loved the 2 different patés on the board and the cheeses were very well selected. Nothing commonplace.

I was impressed with the upper end of their wine list. Their higher end wines are less than 2x retail. For restaurant service, and comparable to some places in town… I was impressed. The lower end isn’t quite the deal on pricing, but nothing was in my “are you kidding me?” range.

Chef Adam Lambert was out and about in the dining room. One of the things that really stood out was that Chef was outside the kitchen talking to the servers and taking one last look at each plate that went out. It was obvious that quality and presentation were his highest priorities.

Bar Cento Big Board

The pizzas were ordered and arrived just as we finished the Big Board. We got the Bianco with sausage and the Olive. The man can put away some pizza, but with the two good size pizzas and the Big Board, we had about half of each to take home for lunch. Both were delicious. I’m a WineOH who is always looking at ingredients because I have an MSG allergy. Anyone sharing this sensitivity will be happy to know that Bar Cento is 100% MSG free, including the sausage. (always a concern)

Final Comments: Nice wine list, great service, food served with the highest quality in mind.

We’ll go back. And if you are looking for a nice meal with your honey, it makes the grade.

* Cuvée – a blend of several grapes, versus a single varietal. For MissWineOH, this is a blend of topics that will occasionally pop up when a single category is not appropriate.

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