I was discussing Yelp with a local business owner and proprietor, there are a lot of strong feeling out there, and, as a Yelper, wanted his opinion. I mentioned that I’ve only written reviews on establishments I didn’t care for, Oceana Bistro, for one. He suggested that that was one of the problems with Yelp. I countered, that I balance my negative reviews with checking in at joints I frequent on a regular basis. Thus, publicizing my liking of those places on my respective Twitter and Facebook accounts. I also mention my favorites on this very blog. What higher praise could an establishment get than a shout out on Amuse-Douche, a tweet mentioning @AmuseDouche11, or a check in on Facebook? But, my wife, who’s in the hospitality service industry, agrees with Jeff, so I’ll do my best and give props to my local favorites.
I had some free time this morning, and wanted to do a review of one such place, so, after checking where I’d been checking in, I was lead to 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Room just off Lafayette Square on Park. It’s the blue building, there is a sign above the door, but it’s about 2 x 6 inches in size, so don’t go looking for it by the sign. But don’t worry, there’s no lame speakeasy vibe.
This past Tuesday I went by 33 wine bar for a wine tasting. Venge Vineyards brought six or so wines in, including a wonderful Pinot Noir and the Scout’s Honor, which, with my being an Eagle Scout, was a treat on several levels. The following is the write up from 33’s invite:
We are honored to have Venge Vineyards owner and winemaker Kirk Venge join us this evening for a wine tasting of the spectacular 2009 and 2010 offerings. More than just the Scout’s Honor, Kirk will present Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and a few surprise gems from this venerable winery started by Kirk’s dad, Nils. There is no charge for the tasting… wines will be available for purchase at a discounted price. Please join us and welcome Kirk to our fair city.
The wines were all quite nice, but unfortunately out of this guy’s price range. I may grab a bottle of Scout’s Honor the next time I want to splurge. One of the great things about 33 is that you can enjoy wine in the shop or take a bottle or, better yet, a case home.
Tasting sheet with wines and price list.
The picture at the top of this posting is that of their menus. The wines are broken down by variety and I believe the listings arranged by price, with region or state listed beside the wine name. This makes searching for a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir easy, especially when price is a concern. Jeff and the rest of his staff are all very knowledgeable on wine and beer, so just ask their advice. Give them your menu, varietal preference, price range, and let the pros guide your decision.
The next afternoon I had a friend coming through town, and we needed a drink. Had he been coming through that evening, we’d have hit Taste,Sanctuaria, or Blood & Sand, for dinner and drinks, but it was 3 PM and those joints don’t open till 5 PM. Fortunately Jeff, at 33, welcomes customers, with his signature hat and chuckle, starting around 3 PMish.
We had a seat at the bar and each enjoyed a glass of white off their by the glass list, as it certainly felt like white wine weather outdoors. My friend stayed with wine, and I went with a couple of their, very well selected, beers. We also
Enjoyed a great cheese and meat platter. My friend ended up purchasing two bottles of rye as well, but those were to take home. The price was right at what The Wine and Cheese Place was getting for the same rye, yet another reason to go to 33 and not TWCP.
For beer, their draught and by the bottle selections are top of the line. They’ve got quite a few bottles in standard, bomber, and 750 ml sizes. I believe they’re limited to six draughts, but you can tell much care went into their selection. While we drank our low proof treats we discussed with Jeff their higher proof options. They have one of the best selections in the city for whiskey, be it Irish, Scotch, Bourbon, or other American whiskey.
Wether it’s a 28 year Hirsch, 16 year Black Maple Hill, Pappy 23 year, when it’s in stock, or Leapold Bros Colorado whiskey for the Americans, or some high end Scotch, 33 is the place to be for a dram. I can’t remember what Irish they have, sorry, you’ll have to go by to find out for yourself.
The chalk boards seen just to the left of the booze are a nice way to amuse yourself while you imbibe. The first one is their draught list, the other two are generally some sort of list of places, quotes, artists, or films for trivia purposes.
I don’t feel the need to say too much about their wine selection, other than it’s vast, and reasonably priced. The carry out price is discounted, as it should be. Jeff does a great job selecting the wines for his store/bar.
Another tally on the pro side, is that 33 is the best place I’ve found to have a get together. Be it a birthday party, guys night out, anniversary, engagement, or what have you, 33 or so folks, pun intended, can fit into their back room for drinks from the bar, or you could see if you can prearrange for a few bottles to be poured to your guests. I ordered a toast of grower’s champagne for twenty once, and then left the guests to provide for themselves at the bar. They can put out great charcuterie and cheese plates along with Billy Goat chips to provide snacks for your party goers. If you’re bringing in a crowd you may be able to have the room to yourself without a room charge, call in advance, like a month if you can. Try doing that at McGurk’s or Blueberry Hill. The Dubliner will allow for free room usage and your own bar tender for a certain period of time, if 33 is unavailable and you can’t change the date.
On Thursday Civil Life did a tap takeover. This was not to be missed.
A couple of the guys behind Civil Life used to be behind the bar at 33. Their beers, especially the American Brown and the English Bitter have no rival.
In general they brew classic European style beers. You won’t find any overly hopped, ancho chile, chocolate covered strawberry, nonsense there. Not that I don’t love nonsense, Hopslam anyone, but if you want a perfectly balanced beer, brewed locally, using solar power, you’ve got to get down to the brewery or try one of their beers on tap at your better beer bars.
I guess this ended up being a review for two local gems. I’ll be sure to give them both five subjective, arbitrary, but at least INFORMED, and in their cases, well deserves, stars, on Yelp.