Monday, December 28, 2009

Doppio Passo Primitivo Salento 2007

All too often, I think of Italian red wines as lightweight party favors.  Tasty, maybe even interesting, but ultimately with not enough guts to handle anything tougher than a slice of lasagna.  I know, I know, that's a completely unjustified attitude.  But it's just a knee-jerk reaction.  I regularly buy Italian reds because I know how delicious they can be.  And I know that some of them have the stuff to fit in even on tables that aren't covered by red and white checkered cloths.

Doppio Passo Primitivo is such a wine.  This Primitivo is very dark – one can barely see through it when it's held up to the light.  The nose of black cherry or cherry cola also shows a lot of the earth.  The mouthfeel is medium-full and the palate is alive with a very rich and earthy taste – currants and cherries mostly.  It strikes me as the dark side of Zinfandel.  Not too surprising since Zinfandel and Primitivo grapes are international cousins of a sort.  The best part is there's no need for decanting.  This wine is as smooth as silk right out of the bottle!

Doppio Passo Primitivo Salento 2007 

Varietal:  100% Primitivo
Appelation:  Italy > Puglia > Salento

Vintage:  2007 
Alcohol Level:  13.5%
Price:  $18
Acquisition disclaimer:  I bought this wine.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2006

I'm one guy who loves grocery shopping with my wife.  Denise calls out the specific need of the moment, I quickly proceed to the proper aisle and pick it up, returning to her and the basket in what I'm sure is a blinding flash of light.  There, I find her still weighing the advantages of the various bread products, spices or pasta.  When we get to the produce department - where she judges me underskilled - she cuts me loose and tells me she'll find me in the wine department when she's done.  Oh, joy!  Time to shop for something really interesting.

Denise always goes grocery shopping fully armed with a fistful of manufacturer coupons.  Once, she gave me one of those precious slips of paper.  It was for two dollars off a Ravenswood product. 

After apologizing profusely to the old lady I nearly knocked down as I spun on my heels and left the produce area, I went to see which of the Ravenswood wines would come home with us.

One of the things I really like about Ravenswood - and there is a lot to like - is that they make so many different wines, it seems there is always something new on the shelf from them.  My choice was the Lodi Old Vine Zin, 2006, which listed at $14.  I got it on sale and with the coupon the price came down to $8.

The wine is very dark both in color and taste.  That's to be expected with a healthy part of the makeup consisting of Petite Sirah.  There's a little bit of Carignane thrown in, too, which makes me wonder if this is a field blend.  I've seen some references to the grapes of lesser percentage being "blended in."  That would indicate a "no" to the field blend question, but that would be somewhat unusual for old California vines.

The nose bears raspberries and plums, and the richness of the bouquet indicates the year and a half this wine spent in French oak.  Dark fruit takes center stage on the palate, with a certain spicy note waiting in the wings.  The palate is jammy with blackberries and plums, big, dark plums the way they taste when you get a little of the skin with the fruit.

 At 14.5% abv, the wine does have a bit of kick to it, and the tannins are quite healthy, too.  It settles down nicely after a bit of time, though.  In a rare state of being out nearly every night of a recent workweek, this bottle was opened on a Monday and finished on a Saturday.  A full five days stoppered really allowed it to calm down to a point of being soft and intense.  The mouthfeel is quite full-bodied, there's nice acidity and a good show of tannins.  I detected a bit of anise and some cocoa notes in the finish.

Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel 2006

Varietal:  78% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 1% Carignane

Appellation:  California > Lodi

Vintage:  2006

Alcohol Level:  14.5%

Price:  $14 (after sale price and coupon, $8)

Acquisition disclaimer:  Bought it myself

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vidigal Douro Vinho Tinto 2005

The Christmas season of 2009 was full of hustling and bustling and running about, as most Christmas seasons are.  Denise and I took a break after visiting the Glendale Galleria - which is the perfect time for a break - and stopped to check out a wine store I had not been to before.  At 55 Degree Wine I was met with such a wide assortment of possibilities I felt a bit daunted.  After much evaluation, I managed to pick up a few bottles to take home.  This wine, Vidigal Douro, was one of them.

I felt I had been lax in exploring Portuguese wines of late, and the grapes involved - 60% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Amarela - seemed very interesting.  I was familiar with Touriga Nacional.  It's the main grape variety used in making Porto.  The Douro region is where Porto comes from, and you can taste the flavor of port in this wine.  It plays remarkably well without the sweetness of Port.  The wine's earthiness really dominates the flavor profile, so don't expect a fruit bomb with this one, at least not in the California style.  

It's a medium-bodied wine with a dark, inky color you cannot see through.  A ruby red tinge around the edge looks quite lovely.  On the nose, expect black cherry with leathery, cedar notes.  The palate shows the wine to be dry with a distinct lack of sweetness.  It strikes me as a rather prunish taste, but I certainly don't mean that to be off-putting.  The acidity is good and some backend heat dies down after 45 minutes of breathing. 

Vidigal's website lists the Douro as “not currently available in the U.S.”  Obviously, that's not quite true, and I am glad it's not.  We paired this wine with our incredible rib roast for Christmas Eve dinner, and it was a stunning hit.  It seems made for beef.

Vidigal Douro Vinho Tinto 2005

Varietal:  60% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Amarela
Appelation:  Portugal > Douro
Vintage:  2005
Alcohol Level:  14%
Price:  $14
Acquisition disclaimer:  I bought this wine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

55 Degree Wine

I love shopping at a wine store that's new to me.  Tiny boutiques,  huge warehouses, corner liquor stores, grocery store wine aisles - it doesn't matter to me.  I love the discovery of finding what sort of wine delights the owner of the establishment.  Often, that's exactly what you'll find on the shelves.

I recently purchased a Groupon to be redeemed at 55 Degree Wine in Atwater Village.  I had intended to drop into the place for some time, but hadn't found the opportunity.  Having what amounted to a two-for-one deal to redeem, and a Christmas shopping trip to the Glendale Galleria, gave me the impetus to do my shopping here.

55 Degree Wine in Glendale55 Degree Wine occupies a portion of a nondescript strip mall set back off Glendale Boulevard, just east of the Golden State Freeway.  Inside, the store is narrow and long with the shelves running from the door to the cashier's table.  It's so full of wine there's barely space enough to turn around.

Founder Andy Hasroun sat at the cashier's table and had a conversation with me while I shopped.  He peeked out from under his pork pie hat to talk to me and other customers who happened in to the store.  He seemed very young for a pork pie hat, but everyone who wears a pork pie hat these days seems too young for it.

"We have 90, 95% Italian wines in here," Andy explained.  "Some Portuguese, some from Spain, a little from all parts of the world.  Mostly Italian, though."  His accounting is probably accurate, as I performed a slightly more than cursory examination to find amid the rows of Italians only half a row or so of Portuguese and Spanish wines, a handful of Germans, a few Champagnes and two California wines.  "Nearly all the wines in the store come from very small producers - less than a thousand cases per year.  That can be a good thing, or a bad thing."  "How's that?" I asked, taking the bait perfectly with my Jack Webb impersonation.  "The good thing is that all the wines are of the quality you can expect only from a small producer.  The bad thing is, when you come back to get more of a wine you loved, it may not be here."

That would be unfortunate, but I'm guessing you'd be able to find something else you like without too much trouble.

Even though it was too early for the tasting in the cellar, Andy insisted I go downstairs and have a look.  It's cold down there - I'd say about 55 degrees - and dark, too.  That's all the better for storing the wine.  Several tables and a small bar awaited the evening's wine lovers, with an array of bottles and glasses at the ready.  It looks like a very comfortable place to have a tasting.  You might be well advised to bring a sweater or jacket if you plan to stay awhile.  Staying awhile seems to be a distinct possibility.

The tastings are held nightly except Mondays, beginning at 6:00 p.m.  (5:00 on weekends) and run until 10:00 p.m. (11:00 on Saturdays.)  The wine and cheese menus change weekly, and there are special wine flights each night.  The room is also available for private events.

The prices at 55 Degree Wine didn't seem too bad.  There aren't too many $10-and-under bottles, but quite a few between $10 and $20.  There are plenty of wines in the $100 neighborhood, too.  I didn't run across too many labels I recognized, but Italian wine is not my strong suit.  There's plenty of choice in grape varieties and all of Italy's wine regions seemed to be represented.  My visit resulted in three choices which I took home.  From Portugal I chose the Vidigal Vinho Tinto 2005  Douro made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Amarela.  My Italian selection was the Doppio Passo  Primitivo  2007  Salento, and from Lake County I took the Line 39 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I had this wine recently with a different design on the label, and I liked it quite a lot.

Andy's store isn't exactly geographically convenient for me, but I'm sure I will visit again sooner rather than later.  It's a wine store that makes it worth going a bit out of your way.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne NV Brut

Denise and I opened a small bottle of Feuillatte "1/4" I had picked up recently.  I've seen it in various stores this season, usually near the checkout stand as a point-of-purchase item.  The bottle is only 187ml, so I suppose they are marketing them as stocking stuffers.  Neither of us drink a lot of sparkling wine, so the size was great for us to just sample it.  It pours out to about a flute and a half.  I've seen it listed at $10, but I got it for $4 at a sale.  As you can see in the image, there is also a rose version.

 We wanted to pair the Feuillatte with some cheeses we had picked up at the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop and Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica.  It was a chilly night, the Christmas tree was fully lit and decorated and White Christmas was on TV.  A perfect night for some Champagne and cheese.

Feuillatte is the number-one selling brand of Champagne in France and number-three worldwide.  They are now being distributed in the U.S. by Washington's Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.  To say Feuillatte is a large producer is an understatement.  From the press release: "With the support of its 5,000 wine growers, the Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte benefits from an extensive and rich supply of quality grapes, representing 7% of the Champagne wines produced."  

The grapes used in this bottling are 20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Meunier.  There is an extremely yeasty nose, almost barnyard-like in funkiness.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy with plenty of small bubbles which persist for a long time after pouring.  There's a lemon zest component and the flavor of almonds.  The wine gives me the feeling of ginger ale.

The Feuillatte went very well with the creamy Minuet cheese by Andante Dairy.  The dairy recommends a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray or a Gruner Veltliner, but this Champagne was quite serviceable with it.  It fit even better with Truffle Tremor cheese by Cypress Grove Chevre out of Arcata, CA.  The real discovery of the night was finding that the Truffle Tremor went great - scratch that - fantastic with Liqueur de Chataigne, or chestnut liqueur. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tasting Room Notes: Sort This Out Cellars

Sort This Out Cellars is a wine producer based in the Santa Ynez Valley of California's Central Coast. They obtain grapes from all over the Golden State, however, and put forth a lineup of wines that are actually produced at the nearby Terravant Wine Company.

With an annual production of 1500 cases, Sort This Out Cellars is definitely boutique. And with so much competition on the wine horizon, the vintner lives by an inventive marketing plan that almost puts the actual wine - which is pretty good - in a backseat.

When you visit the website, or certainly when you step into the tasting room, it's Vegas, Baby in a more or less relentless fashion. From the labels on the bottles to the graphics and ad copy to the music playing over the sound system - Sort This Out offers up a full line of Rat Pack-era Vegas kitsch.

The wines have names like "Viva Las Vegas," "Ante Up" and "Suited." The "Suited" labels are fashioned after "gentlemen's playing cards" of the '40s and '50s, but look to me more like those lusciously-drawn Vargas-style beauties from Playboy magazine. In the tasting room, the concept is helped along by a soundtrack of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy interspersed with enough Sammy, Frank and Dean to make you think you need to roll some dice now.

The "Suited" line also features a special Holiday Merlot 2006. It's 100% Merlot and the card promises black cherry and strawberry flavors with earthy, spicy notes. They recommend their mulled wine mixture to use with it, if you like that sort of thing. It's a visually engaging label with a 1960s-Playboy-cartoon-style snow bunny gracing it.

Here are my thoughts from the tasting:

There were seven wines on the "Tasting Card," and an eighth was thrown in at a customer's request.

"Viva Las Vegas Pinot Grigio 2006 ($15) - Tart and nutty, with lemon peel and pineapple. Very crisp.

"Suited" Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($17) - Grassy nose with a very tropical taste. Notes of mango, pineapple.

"Suited" Sangiovese Rosato 2007 ($15) - 100% Sanjo. Stainless steel. Lovely cherry and strawberry notes. Dry.

"Suited" Merlot 2006 ($20) - 100% Merlot. Earth and smoke. Easy to drink. Comes in Holiday label, too.

"Ante Up" Rollers Reserve Syrah 2005 ($24) - 100% Syrah from Santa Barbara County. Bit of barnyard on the nose. Quite earthy. Finishes well.

VinoNostra "This Wine of Ours" Red Wine 2006 ($36) - The blend is a secret. Only 100 cases made. Smooth with coffee notes.

Film Noir Pinot Noir 2007 ($50) - 100 cases. Cherry and vanilla on the nose with an intriguing flavor of coconut and toasted vanilla.

All in all, if you need a gift for a wine drinker who can't get to Vegas enough, you can't go wrong at Sort This Out Cellars. But don't be too quick to pigeonhole them as simple novelty. The wines are good, and worth checking out on their own merit.

Sort This Out Cellars had their tasting room in Buellton since 2008,which is where I visited them.  They have since moved to a brand new location, in Solvang.

Disclaimer: My tasting experience was provided at no charge for the purpose of review.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ancient Peaks Holiday Open House

Ancient Peaks margarita Vineyard

Take a break from the holiday rush at Ancient Peaks Winery for an evening of mostly old-fashioned fun.  The fun happens Thursday December 17, 2009 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the winery's tasting room in Santa Margarita.  You can take a hayride through the streets of the small town north of San Luis Obispo, enjoy some live music, snack on cookies and appetizers and take the chill off with hot apple cider.  You will undoubtedly want to do a little wine tasting, too.  The featured wines will include the new release 2007 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah.

This event is complimentary, although guests are encouraged to bring a $5 donation or the equivalent in canned food goods to benefit the Food Bank of San Luis Obispo County.

The live music will be provided by guitarist Mike Maguire, who will play acoustic classic rock, and local artist Bill Mulder will display his original landscapes.

Ancient Peaks Winery tasting room is located at 22720 El Camino in Santa Margarita.  You can find more information by visiting the Ancient Peaks Winery website or by calling 805.365.7045.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"They Got This Recession On" Wines, Part 5

Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva 2007 is a dark place to go.  Fortunately. I'm not afraid of the dark.  In fact, I kind of like it when the lights are out.  That's what happens when you hold a glass of this Carmenere up to the light - darkness ensues.  It's an inky purple color which literally lets no light pass through.  The aromas are just as dark: blackberries that have been tromped down into a muddy trail come to mind.  There's also a spiciness, possibly anise and maybe some nutmeg.  It's an intriguing nose.  The taste follows suit.  It's dark and brooding on the palate, certainly not a fruitfest.  I would imagine this to be a wine that is not to everyone's liking.  But if you have a fondness for the dark side of the vineyard, this may be just for you.  For only $8, it really has a lot to offer.

Winemaker:  Andres Ilabaca
Varietal:  Carmenere
Appelation:  Chile > Valle Central > Rapel Valley
Vintage:  2007
Alcohol Level:  14.1%
Price:  $8 (on sale)
Acquisition disclaimer:  I bought this wine at BevMo.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Firestone Discoveries" Targets Millennials

Firestone DiscoveriesLos Olivos winery Firestone Vineyard has launched a new wine brand designed to appeal to Millennials, or the generation which began appearing roughly in the 1980s.  The Santa Barbara County producer has hooked into the net-savvy qualities of Millennials in a multi-pronged effort to get next to a rapidly growing segment of wine drinkers through their new brand, Firestone Discoveries.

Using the tag line "Ignite The Senses," Firestone's campaign seeks to associate their wine with a lifestyle that's exciting to wine drinkers who have recently come of age.  Tie-ins with Twitter, YouTube and Facebook will appear along the way as the winery reaches out to Millenial wine drinkers specifically and enthusiatically.  One aspect of the marketing plan - "Culinary Treks" - will actively involve consumers in exotic hiking and travel promotions to take place throughout the year.  These events are designed to spotlight how Firestone Discoveries fit with different cultural foods and experiences.

The wines themselves are described as "bright, fresh and fruit-forward" and sound as youthful as the demographic slice at which they are aimed.  Available in fine wine retail shops and restaurants nationwide, the Firestone Discoveries Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sell for a suggested retail price of $9.99.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"They Got This Recession On" Wines, Part 4

Fess Parker Frontier Red Lot 91 is the latest in a series of non-vintage wines from Fess Parker's respected Santa Barbara County winery.  Their website lists the wine at $12, but it sells at some places for $10, and I got a bottle from Los Angeles Wine Company for $8.

The wine is a blend of six Rhone varietals, and it really drinks like an actual Rhone Valley wine rather than a California facsimile.  The nose features blackberry and spices in a very dark setting.  An herbal quality seems to come through a layer of smoke.  On the palate, Frontier Red has a dark edge as well, with plenty of smoky fruit and a licorice component adding to the dark flavors.  I picked up a bit of graphite, too.  Frontier Red drank better each of the three nights it was open.

It's got a medium-mouthfeel, which is rather surprising considering the grapes involved.  I thought of it at first as "thin," but later I felt that might be a bit harsh, since the taste is so good.  I do prefer a bigger feel on my palate, though.  I would recommend giving it some time to settle down, either sitting in the glass or by decanting.

My wife used some of it in a spaghetti sauce she made, and the result was fabulous.  Naturally, the wine paired extremely well with that sauce.

Winemaker:  Fess Parker
Varietal:  56% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 13% Carignane, 5% Sangiovese, 5% Cinsault & 1% Mourvedre 
Appelation:  California > Santa Barbara County
Vineyard:  Camp Four Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley); Starlane Vineyard (Santa Barbara County); Rodney's Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley)
Vintage:  NV
Alcohol Level:  15.5%
Price:  $8 (list $12)
Acquisition disclaimer:  I paid for this wine, on sale.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Line 39 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Line 39 Cabernet was recommended to me by a friend of mine who shares my somewhat obsessive passion for wine.  Nicolas wrote me an email after running into me at a wine store.  Yes, we run into each other at wine stores - in Los Angeles.  "One of the wines I picked up was really very nice.  You should pick up a bottle!"  So the wife and I piled into the car the next day and went back over to the West Side.  "Oh, yeah, we had a few cases of that, but we ran out.  We should get more in a few days."  Well, it must be good if they ran out of it.  In a few days I got a text from Nicolas.  "Line 39 is in!"  Back to the West Side we went, and this time I was not denied.  Fortunately, Nicolas was right.  It is a good wine. 

Location, location, location.  Line 39 refers to the latitude on which the winery is located.  Is that a good latitude for wine?  Well, Washington D.C. and Pyongyang North Korea are listed just either side of latitude 39, so I'd say based on that information, the jury is still out.  However, Line 39 happens to run right through Lake County, California.  That's just north of a place called Napa Valley, so maybe it's not such a bad location after all.

The wine is very smooth if you give it a half hour or so to open itself.  I pick up aromas like raspberries and cigar box.  On the palate, I get blackberry, strawberry and a bit of a cranberry edge.  There is some smoke and earth coming forth, too.  It's a deep ruby color, almost opaque.  I always imagine that means a bit more complexity is lurking in there.  I don't know if that's true, but it's a nice thought.

Winemaker:  Cecchetti Wine Company
Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Appelation:  California > Lake County
Vintage:  2006
Alcohol Level:  14.5%
Price:  $10
Acquisition disclaimer:  I bought this wine myself.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tasting Event: Pourtal - Cradle of Wine

Santa Monica's 7-month-old wine hang, Pourtal, kicked off their December program with a pouring party Tuesday night.  Featured were the distributors of all the wines to be spotlighted during the month of December.  The wines are part of the "Cradle of Wine" series, in which Pourtal will take an in-depth look at - and taste of - wines from the Republic of Georgia, Israel, Lebanon, Bosnia and Croatia.  Representatives of the distributors who bring these wines to the U.S. will pour and talk about them, as they did Tuesday night.

The event to kick off the series found the room in party mode, with a friendly and boisterous crowd filling the area.  In addition to the "Cradle of Wine" tastes, also available were the samples from the Enomatic wine system, which delved into other areas.  Since they are available all the time, I decided to stick with the wines being poured by the distributors.

The Republic of Georgia was represented by Greg Alonzo of Terrell Wines.  He boasted that Georgia is the birthplace of wine, since the region's winemaking is traced back around 8,000 years.  Alonzo told me "Georgia has around 500 grape varieties, but only 38 are grown for commercial viticulture."  My favorite of the four Georgian wines Alonzo poured was the Mildiani Saperavi.  Saperavi is the most important red wine grape grown in the republic, and produces a hearty and distinctive wine that would probably appeal to most American wine lovers.  I thought there was a strong resemblance to Zinfandel in this wine.  The Teliani Valley Khvanchkara was also a hit with me.  Made from Alexandria & Mudzhuretuli grapes, this semi-sweet red had a beautiful bouquet and was all about raspberries.  I had the semi-sweet white as well.  The Teliani Valley Tvishi is made from Tsolikauri grapes and is floral on the nose with a refreshing minerality to edge the moderate sweetness.

Israel's wine industry was represented by Rob Fogarty of Yarden Wines.  Fogarty poured a very nice 2008 Golan Heights Moscato that held some nice effervescence along with the sweetness.  It was quite refreshing, and could work well before or after dinner.  There were also two from Israeli Wines Direct which I did not get the chance to sample.

A wine from Bosnia and one from the Dalmation Coast of Croatia were poured by Michael Morales of the Blue Danube Wine Company.  The 2007 Citluk "Herceg" was the Bosnian entry.  Made from Zilavka, Bena and Krkosija grapes, this white wine was light and a little bit sweet on the finish.  The 2007 Bibich Riserva is made from grapes - Babich, Plavina and Lasin - which are related to Zinfandel.  That doesn't surprise, since Zinfandel's roots come from Croatia.  The dark fruit and peppery highlights seemed right at home in California.

I have saved the most unusual for last.  Going into this event, I expected to find many different and unusual tastes.  This was largely not the case, as many of the wines I sampled seemed designed for an American palate.  The Lebanese wines offered a healthy dose of that "different" I was expecting.  The three wines from Chateau Musar were highlighted by stories of winemaker Serge Hochar growing Cabernet on a hillside just outside Beirut; skipping vintages due to war raging right around the property; and having difficulty getting enough labor to work the land and harvest the grapes because of the danger.  With all that stood in the way, it's no wonder the wines produced here were a labor of love.

The Cuvee White is made of Obaideh and Merwah grapes, which would translate loosely to Chardonnay and Semillon.  It has a musty funkiness that rivals any Sauvignon Blanc I've tasted, but without the acidic edge.  The Cuvee Rouge is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignane, always in equal measure.  The Hochar Pere et Fils is the winemaker's response to a request from the distributor for something "a little more sellable."  These wines are very distinctive, to a fault, perhaps.  They are not for everyone's palate, but if you're looking for a wine adventure, they certainly qualify.

All in all, Pourtal got the month - and the "Cradle of Wine" series - off to a rousing start.  December is jam-packed with events - there are at least six in a ten-day span - so check their calendar to plan your favorites.  The people behind Pourtal are as friendly as they can be.  If the music is too loud when you are there, ask them to adjust it.  No doubt they will be happy to oblige.  

Stephen Abronson, the proprietor has put together a good room and wine director Rachel Bryan has made some good choices in the wine dispensers.  Small plates are served, with a great cheese selection from Andrew's Cheese Shop and hand-crafted flatbreads from Full Of Life.  Their Autumn Salad was delicious.  There's a small outdoor patio in front with some heaters, in case your party would like to people-watch along the boulevard.