It's hard not to love the straightforwardness of a name like Taste Food and Wine. It reminds us of badly translated but incredibly charming Asian restaurant names (Double Happiness, for example) and captures the store's tone and purpose to a T. But what's best about this quaint (read: small) and charming European wine shop, grocery and deli (besides, of course, the wine) is how visually cool it is. The low lighting is reminiscent of something more romantic, like a piano bar or an Italian bistro with those red-and-white checkered tablecloths. The walls are painted Venetian-red save for one, which is sort of orange and yellow mixed; you may not notice the colors at all, hidden as they often are behind the endlessly stacked and widely varied wine bottles and the original acrylic artwork by David Simpson.
But you didn't come to Look at Walls and Art, you came to Taste Food and Wine, so let's taste some food and wine already! Each wine rack or section is labeled by the country it originates from, like a globe or map made of bottles. For example, American wine is labeled "U.S.A." and Brazilian wine is labeled "Brazil." (Also available: French, Italian, Spanish, Australian, South African, Portuguese, Argentinean, Chilean and so on.) Bottle prices range from $8 to $90.
The deli selection is a bit limited, but options include a panini, soup and Gail's sticky toffee pudding ($5.95). And last but certainly not least, there's a rubber chicken for sale, randomly stuffed between a few bottles of American wine. The symbolism is so palpable you can almost taste the rubber. And the chicken. And the American most of all.
For you wine-loving cheapskates out there, Taste Food and Wine also has complimentary wine tastings on Mondays and Fridays from 6-7:30 p.m.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Andrew Moore