New Opening: Winebelly

By Megan Giller  |  October 24, 2013

The newly opened wine bar and small plates spot on South First Street packs a lot of flavor into those bites. We’ve always liked the Tran family’s other spot, the Vietnamese restaurant Hai Ky, but we were pleasantly surprised at how they’ve raised the bar at their new place (both figuratively and literally, since they’ve also moved the physical bar to the restaurant's front and center). The rest of the interior is similar to how it looked when the locale was the Green Muse coffeeshop, although some dark wood adds class and mystique to the cute neighborhood setting.

  • We started with the crudo of the day, with grapefruit supremes, sliced watermelon radishes and cherry tomatoes.

  • Next was the panzanella salad, created by chef Buulinh Liu with kale, sourdough croutons, watermelon radishes and Spanish Idiazabal cheese in a sherry vinaigrette.

  • On to the meat! The lovely beef carpaccio came with a hearts of palm salad and Parmesan cheese as well as a toasted baguette.

  • Roasted carrots are becoming quite the trend now, though they haven't quite hit Brussels sprouts proportions yet. These came mixed with roasted parsnips, sliced avocado and sunflower sprouts on top and creme fraiche on the bottom.

  • The meat on the duck confit lacked some flavor as did the bitter turnips, but the lentil salad more than made up for it. The pine nuts in it added a nice crunch and the overall honey tones left us feeling all warm inside.

  • We saved the best for last. We weren't sure about the fried quail, but our dining partner insisted, and boy, was he right. The peppery yet sweet, perfectly crunchy crust complemented the tender meat inside, as did the honey served on the side, the light arugula salad and the grilled pears. We finished off our meal with excellent sorbets, and we're kicking ourselves for not taking pictures of the four flavors: pineapple-basil, berry, espresso and pistachio. Let your imagination run wild!