I was excited to see another wine bar hit the Chicago wine scene. I've been to City Winery for drinks and tastings, but never had the opportunity to have dinner. I'm kicking myself for not being on Twitter fast enough to learn that Prince was performing a late night show at City Winery a few weeks back. That's an interesting perk of the space - City Winery has a solid performance space, making for a fun night out of dinner and a show.
City Winery is a large, airy two-story building with brick walls, wooden tables and a large wine storage room full of wine barrels- excellent design for the concept. I sat and looked at the menu: full of small plate options like bacalao fritters (salt cod), duck tacos and daily crudo, my first choice.
The daily crudo was comprised of thinly sliced scallops with stone fruit and tobiko- a very tasty dish with the velvety scallops enveloping the sweet peaches and salty fish eggs. Round two brought the wild mushroom flatbread, which was good, aside from being 70% bread and little goat cheese. Next, the seared scallops were very good- seared on the outside making them sweet with the pillowy inside. Solid dish.
There are some things on a menu that catch your eye and Street Corn was one of them. I had visions of elote, Mexican Street Corn, with cheesy, buttery, spicy, salty, creamy, citrusy sweet corn. I was disappointed to see that this particular Street Corn included simple sweet corn, with bell pepper and lime juice. If you are accustom to the street corn you may sample from Maxwell Street Market on Sundays, City Winery puts on their own modern twist.
Since it is a wine bar, I decided to try their house wines. On the whole, I was unimpressed. For one, I thought that they were a bit pricey at $12 a glass, considering they bypassed overhead costs like bottling and middlemen. Second, they did not have the quality for the price tag, as the Riesling and Pinot Noir I tasted just had no length or intensity. I suggest you go with wines by the glass or bottle selections as there are plenty of great options like Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko, Littorai Pinot Noir and something special like the 1978 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (by the glass!) I was treated to.
Dessert was hard to choose from, as the selections looked so good. I went with the cheesecake and it was tasty, but the consistency was odd, almost gelatin-like.
On the whole, I think City Winery may want to refine their menu and either adjust their house glass prices or work on the quality.
However, the space is amazing for groups, concerts or just hanging though and I would put it on 'must-do' list for Randolph Street. Check it out.
* my dinner was provided by City Winery Chicago