Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Vintage 58 Wine Bar at AT&T Park

Continuing my Tuesday series of reviewing establishments at the ballpark ...

Like good ballpark goers, we started with all the classic foods, like the famous Crazy Crab'z, the legendary Gilroy Garlic Fries, and of couse, a hot dog.  But then it was time to move onto drinks.  Sure, most people at the park were drinking beer.  Or perhaps Bloody Marys or Margaritas.  We started that way too.  And Emil even unfortunately got the champagne at the Crazy Crab'z stand.  But then we moved up in the world, to Vintage 58.

Vintage 58 looks a bit out of place, as it is a wine bar.  With pretty good wine.  At the ballpark.  Yes, welcome to San Francisco.
Emil happily awaiting some bubbles!
It was adorable.  It did look a bit like a real wine bar, with decorative wood planking and wine bottle displays.  They had a surprisingly large selection, including wine on tap, and at least 6 different sparklings (including a Giant's branded Mumm), a bunch of reds, and a few whites.  The bartender was pretty knowledgable about her offerings and was quite friendly.  My only complaint is that they wouldn't let you try a wine first to decide what you wanted, but would let you order a single, taste it, and then upgrade to a double if you wanted.  Which we of course did.  She also did pour a couple sparkling that had gone flat, recognized it immediately, and opened fresh bottles.
Sparkling Mulderbosch rosé, Giant's Mumm.  $14.50 each.
The sparkling wines were served in these cute plastic flutes.  The Mumm had a special Giant's label on the bottle, but was really just Mumm.  The rosé but was sweet and dry, quite refreshing, but I was in the mood for something sweeter.  We tried a few others as well, but I don't really remember any details.

The price was shocking.  While almost everything else at the park seemed ridiculously over-priced, these were reasonable at $14.50 each.  I'm pretty sure the champagne Emil got at Crazy Crab'z was more ($16?), and this as much better.

The still wines were offered in two sizes, single or double. They were also totally reasonable, $10.25 for a single, $20 for a double.  I wish I had photos of the double glasses, as they were very serious glasses of wine!  Given that people were paying $9 for a bottle of beer, these prices were incredible.

For reds, I tried both the Quattro Mani Barbera and the Trivento Malbec.  Both were full bodied, and decent, although I liked the Malbec more.  I also had a Sauvignon Blanc, but I didn't catch the name of the maker.  It was my favorite of the wines I tried.

Vintage 58 was a big hit with our group.  Decent wine, reasonable prices, and certainly where we'd return if we go back to the park!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Catering by Trace

Trace is the restaurant located in the W hotel in San Francisco.  I haven't visited since it turned into Trace, but I went a few times back in its previous incarnation (the XYZ), although only for brunch.  I wasn't ever blown away, but it was always solid, and easy to get a reservation, which is certainly a nice thing in the SF brunch scene.

Trace provided catering for an event I was at recently, so I got to sample a few of their items.  Unfortunately, they ran out of the dish I was most excited to try, panna cotta, right when I got there!  That is what I get for arriving fashionably late! I love panna cotta, and was very grumpy at the hoards of people who were all walking around with multiple panna cottas in their hands.  Couldn't they have saved one for me?  Boo.

Anyway, their offerings were more interesting than standard apps at an event like this, but nothing was remarkable.
Smoked salmon, cream cheese, chives.
The ratios were all off in this.  Way too much cream cheese, making it impossible to taste the salmon at all.  There was also a very thin cracker-like layer, but I also didn't taste it.  All that came through was mediocre cream cheese.  Meh.
Pickled beets, goat cheese, pistachio.
Who doesn't love salads on skewers? :)

This was actually a pretty tasty bite, even though it involved goat cheese and pistachios, which I don't tend to like.  The beet was tart and really well pickled.  I think they have a pickled beet salad at the restaurant, which I'd totally consider getting after tasting these beets!
Chicken liver mousse, pickled rhubarb.
I was overjoyed to see this.  Sure, it wasn't the panna cotta, but I do love my liver mousses.  The mousse was creamy, smooth, with a nice liver flavor.  The pickled rhubarb was a nice crunch on top, but I didn't taste it much.  It likely provided a bit of acidity to compliment the rich liver.  The tart shell was unremarkable, but you needed something to serve the mousse on, and it was better than a crostini.  The mousse is also on their regular menu, and I'd order it if I was there.  Tastiest bite of the evening.