Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wine Bar Deja Vu @ The Conrad

IM's The Dish reports today that the Conrad has leased the Vitesse space to new owners who plan to try the wine bar concept again -- this time called Tastings. Deja vu? When the Conrad opened Vitesse with the wine-by-the-glass concept, within weeks the list had been mined for all the good stuff by the bottle and very little of the extensive by-the-glass list was actually on offer.

Of course, this one will be different, says Indianapolis Monthly. Says the Dish: "Tastings makes use of an Enomatic wine-tasting system, which seals bottles with oxygen to preserve the remainder of the bottle." What? Hey, I'm just repeating what they said :-) Actually, the Enomatic system which many of you have seen sucks oxygen *out* of the bottle. (Note to Disher: Oxygen and wine are not generally friends.)

But the real tidbit? Wine by the bottle will be for sale at the retail price -- and, as is (we think) legal in Indiana, you should be able to take home any unfinished wine in a bottle (in any restaurant.) Several bars such as the Chatterbox have retail carry-out licenses, but this will be the first I know of locally to sell for consumption at the lower mark-up.

It's a concept that can work -- or at least one I've been a little in love with since the old Plumpjack in San Francsico took advantage of their retail store pricing and became one of the best restaurants in town. The future owners of this particular Tastings who are from Indianapolis contend there aren't any other bars like this one (except for the other Tastings, I'd wager.) Well, I might disagree, having just seen this concept in at least one other city. Ultimately, I hope they can deliver and the list is good. Wouldn't it be great to enjoy a $50 bottle of pinot that's *really* a $50 bottle of pinot?


**Not exactly sure how the business deal is working (the press release from the Conrad put no new light on it.) However, to make a correction, the future owners are local while the chain itself is based in St. Petersburg. The Conrad positions it as a "store" in the press release with food and outdoor seating but it's unclear if it will be a "store" with bottles out for purchase or if they're using "store" as the industry term for franchise location. Vitesse closes July 30 and Tastings should open in October.

** Mass Ave Wine Shoppe right here in River City pours wine by the glass and has food and seating options. Not sure if they allow you to purchase a bottle at retail price and consume it on-site. Will check.

**A huge shout-out to an attorney friend who spent a boatload of time yesterday searching and verifying Indiana's carry-out laws. The conclusion? It's not illegal to carry unfinished wine out of an establishment (and possibly proven legal, as well.) However, note that open container laws apply so check the requirements for more details. (More discussion and links attached to the FaceBook discussion of this post. Or email me for more info.)


CorrND said...

"Wine by the bottle will be for sale at the retail price..."

Nice! I will definitely be taking them up on that.

The Dish barely touched on this, but the $1M renovation of the Washington/Illinois corner of The Conrad is not to be glossed over. They'll be creating a separate entrance for Tastings on the corner and adding 80 sidewalk seats. With the Panera seating across the way, these additions should be a huge boon to that intersection.

braingirl said...

I sure wish Weber Grill would clean up their space. The place is just tacky. The grill tops in the fence around the seating area are rusted, paint is peeling, and that ever-present smell...

J. Silverheels Gray said...

Great! I’ve been to the Tastings in St. Pete, and thought it was nicely done.