Sep 21, 2010

Reserve Opens Today. "Open Water" Finds a Permanent Home.

Reserve invited me last week to take a peek at their much anticipated wine bar located next to the Amway Grand Plaza hotel. After saying hello to a few familiar faces in the crowd, the hostess sat me in a booth with Gerhard Schmied, VP of F&B for the Amway Hotels and three of our wine reps in town. I ordered a glass of Pierre Sparr Cremant D'Alsace to toast the occasion. I looked at Gerhard, who
is probably the most global food and wine enthusiast I know in town, and we both gave each other that look of agreement that confirms that this place was our kind of joint. Think Barcelona meets Grand Rapids via Paris and Buenos Aires. The modernity of Aureole's three story glass wine tower with a touch of Batali's charcuterie from Eataly in New York. Better yet, imagine 102 wines by the glass with prices starting at brown bag level (as low as $4.50 a glass) all the way to wine cellar reserve categories. So far, so good.

Ran Ortner's Open Water, winner of the inaugural ArtPrize last year, sits on the throne of 102 wines on tap like the Da Vinci's Last Supper inside the Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. It's presence signifies that Grand Rapids has finally arrived. Not only that, imagine a space coalesced with Steelcase, Herman Miller and Haworth furnishings to complete the West Michigan furniture trifecta. It's like a Neocon showroom with bling. Est! Est!! Est!!! 

Former Journeyman chef, Matt Millar, pays tribute to pork and cheese in his charcuterie and cheese selections ($6 each item). As expected, the Chicken and Foie Gras Pate delivers a knock out punch but it's the Fermin Jamon Iberico, whose butter like texture,  who definitely takes home the championship belt. Don't mistake it, Reserve is, and foremost, a wine bar. However, Chef Millar's selection of small plates, charcuterie, cheeses and desserts perfectly complement the grape selections without taking away the true essence of this wine bar.

With the vast selection of wines, there are no excuses for not finding a wine that you approve. I paired my pate with a glass of the Domaine Gilbert Picq chablis. Crisp and dry, DGP exemplifies what I expect from a good chablis. I've been digging cab francs lately and my choice of the M. Cosentino "The Franc" from Napa stood toe to toe with one of my favorite cheeses in the world, taleggio from Italy.

Chris Pawlisz of Chicago's Bistro 110 (the roasted garlic capital of Chicago), takes the helm as restaurant general manager. There's no question that he will be doing a lot of last minute tweaking before doors open this afternoon, but so far, he's managed the monumental task of opening a brand-spanking new wine bar without any major disappointments from yours truly. Okay, the music selection of Sinatra ballads could use a little variety of the upbeat kind. That's my only suggestion and I was assured that they are working on finding another channel with a more diverse tempo. 

Grand Rapid's wine "showroom" is ready to go and I don't see any reason why this place won't age beautifully like a first growth Bordeaux. 

No comments: