One great tradition that bailliages can promote is the “Dine Around” to visit local restaurants that may not be able to accommodate a large group or formal event. In the past year the Cincinnati Confrèrie has gotten into the swing with the admirable organizational efforts of Dame de la Chaîne Paula Weinkoop. We had two nights at fun eateries that can go under the radar along with the adventure of wines brought by members and guests. Surprises are the norm at these occasions with bottlings that have been waiting for that “perfect moment.” What better time to open that special wine and share with appreciative friends, especially when there are many other equally interesting presentations?
Our first venture was at Slim’s, perhaps the quirkiest place in town. Only open three nights a week, this small location with communal tables is almost entirely the creation and work of Patrick McCafferty. He buys fresh ingredients to determine the weekly hand written menu, and cooks the dishes himself at the adjacent open kitchen. Lately the themes have had a Brazilian influence but the season, foods at market, and whims of the chef-owner can bring changes at the next visit. No phone, no credit cards, no liquor license – but terrific food. Bring your own wine with no corkage fee and order early since the best things will be gone by evening’s end.
Later in the year we gathered at York St. Cafe across the river in Kentucky. Situated in a former pharmacy with historic Queen Anne architecture, surprises are found in a live music lounge and art gallery on the upper floors. Middle Eastern inspired tapas and “conversation boards” are featured along with more mainstream salads and entrées, and we had another enjoyable time with everything from cult Chardonnays and Champagne to substantial red blends from Napa, Maipo, and Bordeaux.
If you have a place in your town that seems a little off beat a has a wine friendly policy, a little patronage on an impromptu basis can do wonders to a deserving business and spread good will and fun at the same time. We have several Dine Arounds planned for the coming year at new locations. Vive la Chaîne!
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse