For Your Eyes Only

Which is probably where you want to be, anyway. The Loring has a dozen wines available by the glass (all $4.95 or $5.95) and another two dozen varieties by the bottle, most around $30. It's a really solid list of global, well-respected wines that tend to express their variety or type quite clearly; if a wine list were a palette, this one would be distinctly unmuddy. The only zinfandel is the light, elegant Nalle Dry Creek Valley ($39); the only cabernet franc ($5.95/glass) the soft and fragrant Steele version. The mostly-cabernet-sauvignon Niebaum-Coppola Black Label claret turns out to have a lot of body and enough acidity to go perfectly with the steak.

Which is something you'd better know going into the place, because in my experience the service was endlessly chipper, but none too well informed. Ask these servers too many questions and they quickly assume a polite, steely expression that fairly screams, "I just knew Mrs. Mackenzie was going to call on me if I didn't do my homework!" Not a plate arrives at the table that isn't subject of a "Who got the shrimp?" plate auction, and one night I even saw kids delivering martinis to tables with the bowls pressed into their hot little hands (dear Lord, deliver bar trays unto the little children). The general impression I got was that most of the servers had been ripped right out of chem lab and thrown onto the floor.

Which is not to say that I don't envy them on some level. Working in this stunning cathedral of artisanal bohemian gee-whiz makes the average slogging-through-college job look like last week's artichoke ramekin. Oh, and for you sharp-eyed readers out there, of course I'm not going to review the Loring's artichoke ramekin. When I get done reviewing the Statue of Liberty and the Mississippi, I might get around to it. Some things are just too big to review, and it's to the Loring Pasta Bar's credit that their architecture approaches that category.

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