Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vine Cottage

For my Wines of the World class, we were required to go to a wine bar, and ask questions. The spouse had signed up with the San Diego Union-Tribune to get special deals notices in her e-mail. Knowing about the assignment, she purchased a pay $25, get a $50 coupon for the Vine Cottage
The Vine Cottage is a little place at 6062 Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa, Ca. It has a small dining area, and a small bar. The interior is warmly lit, with lots of natural wood, but a modern aesthetic. It manages to feel cozy but up-to-date at the same time. They need a light on their sign, however. The Brown on beige color scheme of the sign isn't the most visible at the best of times. At twilight, it was almost invisible.

Our server, Audrey, was very pleasant. Cheerful and helpful, she really made us feel welcome. She was more than willing to answer my assignment questions, but kept it to one per table visit. That was fair, she had other tables to deal with.

We decided to get a couple of appetizers, and then see if we were hungry enough for dinner as well. The menu is small, but comprehensive enough. Looking over the menu, they had black mussels. They had me right there. I adore mussels. They offer three sauce choices, we went with the Basque. The Basque sauce has tomatoes, leeks, spicy sausage, and smoked paprika. The mussels were superb. It is ridiculously easy to overcook mussels. These were cooked perfectly. Extraordinarily tender, and perfectly complemented by the sauce.

The other starter we got was the Artisanal Charcuterie & Cheese Board. It came with three very nice cheeses, crusty bread, pate, prosciutto and salami, and some jam and dried fruit. The cheeses were quite good, including a blue that I actually liked, especially with the jam, that mellowed that blue cheese funk down just enough for me to enjoy it. I am generally not fond of moldy cheese. The bread was good, and seriously crusty. There just wasn't enough for the amount of cheese and pate. Luckily, some very nice pub fries came with the mussels, and made a very good base to spread pate onto. It also had some very nice homemade pickles.

I had a glass of a very nice Spanish garnacha to go with the mussels. It was mildly spicy, and matched really well.

We were mostly full, but well under the $50, so decided to have dessert. We had a very nice pear panna cotta. The panna cotta itself was lovely, the poached pears needed a few more minutes poaching, they were still a little crunchy.

I had a very pleasant glass of a dryish tawny port with dessert.

Overall, and excellent experience. The service was friendly, and the server knowledgeable about the food and wines. The food, especially the mussels, was very good. Definitely worth it.

Happy Eating!

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