There is this notion that the creative culinary locus of Greater Boston has shifted from the city proper across the river to the Republic and environs – Camberville, if you will. Of course, there is much buzz in Boston with new restaurant openings; yet, as evidenced by the popularity of the Seaport district – overblown Italian and high- end chains – the focus seems to be on providing a safe bet for the locals, touristas and conventioneers. Of course, big rents and exhorbitantly priced liquor licenses add their own variables to the mix. The same is apropos of the cocktail scene. What started at Drink – Boston proper – has been superseded by the likes of Saloon, backbar and Brick and Mortar, all edgy, all across the Charles. Certainly Boston proper has seen a proliferation of good watering holes recently but frankly most seem centered on providing the city’s good citizens with a simple MOR after- work libation and a selection of current comfort foods. Ditto that curious concept of wine bars – in Boston, the easy and familiar. Yet, what’s wrong with easy and familiar? Nothing really. Every glass of wine need not be a revelation, nor each small plate an epiphany. But the question arises, “When is a wine bar a wine bar?”.
After my evening at Belly, we knew we had to cross the river and visit Boston’s newest wine bar – Sip. Located in the space of a defunct nouveau Italian joint – I hope someone lit a smudge before the opening – Sip, part of The Legendary Restaurant Group, is a spacious, minimalist space sitting on the corner of one of Boston’s hot emerging districts. With over thirty wines by the glass – available as either a sip, 6 oz. pour or 10 oz. pour – the list is safe – nothing weird, unfamiliar, edgy – with prudent selections for the casual wine drinker. As Katrin tweeted after studying the wine menu “Having a cocktail in a wine bar!”. I was more fortunate and spotted one of my go-to wines – “Saint M” – a Reisling collaboration between Chateau St. Michelle and Dr.Loosen – lime flowers, lime, petrol and slate. Now, time to eat.
The menu’s core are the two sections “smaller” and “larger”, that is, small plates and entrees. The menu is rounded out with cheese and charcuterie boards, shellfish, flatbreads, soups and salads, sushi and maki. The menu does cover all bases. We began with a small plate – grilled flatbread and pepperoni sauce. Pepperoni sauce! Who knew? We enjoyed this one alot.
Katrin chose the Cobb Salad and accompanied it with “Whispering Angel” from Chateau d’Esclans, a lean, racy rosé with a mouthful of minerality. She was pleased with the salad and particulary with the judicious way it had been dressed.
I hadn’t had a burger in three weeks, so my choice was pre-ordained – the grass-fed burger. The pros – presentation; temperature (I ordered it rare and so it came.); wonderful toasted brioche roll. Cons – no cheese ( I ordered cheddar but the burger came nude. Our server quickly and graciously fixed that.); lack of seasoning (The flavor was flat.); the tomato (industrial). A big plus were the fries – crisp/tender, wonderfully seasoned with salt and pepper. I was feeling nostalgic so I ordered a Bordeaux- the Chateau Roc de Segur – to accompany the burger; the combo evocative of “Burgers and Bordeaux” at the Bristol Lounge. The wine was served at room temperature – I much prefer cellar temperature for reds.
All in all, our visit had been pleasant. Katrin’s initial retreat to the cocktail menu actually turned out well. The cocktail she ordered, “Summer Fling”, was based upon Hendricks, her favored gin. Our conclusion is that Sip is highly suited to be a succesful neighborhood resto since no entree is priced over $22; a good after work location for a relaxing cocktail, though the beer menu is limited; perfect for a pre-theater meal with multiple lighter options. Yet the question that arose “When is a wine bar a wine bar” still remained unanswered.
Sip Wine Bar & Kitchen
571 Washington St. Boston MA