Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bodega DeCordova: For a Night of Wine-Soaked Conversation and Sublime-Tasting Olives

With friends in town and in the mood for a chill night where we could actually converse over drinks, we headed to the newly opened Bodega DeCordova wine bar last night.

This sliver of a bar is located along the easy-to-miss, nondescript Fairfax block just south of The Grove. We entered through the fairy-lit door into an unpretentious, tavern-like bar scattered with dark wooden wine caskets doubling as tables and warm-colored walls adorned with vintage bullfighting posters and images of cobblestone Spanish streets and bodegas.

A scroll of butcher paper behind the bar listed their small but varied list of exclusively Spanish wines. As a wine non-connoisseur who is often swayed by the design of a label or a catchy name (I was bummed they were out of their Wrongo Dongo Jumilla wine), the bartender patiently doled out samples of almost all their wines as he explained their flavors so we could choose a bottle actually based on taste. Thoughtful handbag hooks under the bar allowed both hands free to sample the selection.

Our group chatted as we toured Spain via our bottles of red wine...from Northern Spain's reliably good Rioja to the south's full-bodied Casa Castillo Monastrell Jumilla and fruity Enate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot. With the mellow crowd (groups of casually-dressed locals were scattered throughout the bar but finding seating was easy for a weekend night) and talk-friendly noise-level, our boozy-conversation flowed as easily as our 4 bottles of wine.

While Bodega DeCordova's tapas menu is more for snacking than dining, the cheese plate of manchego cheeses, figs and bread and the plate of intensely flavorful Seville olives were perfect nibbling companions for our wine. The anchovy-spiced olives were sublime; our group only took breaks from polishing off the deep dish of olives to rhapsodize about how unbelievably tasty they were.

Bodega DeCordova is cash only...but thankfully you don't need a lot of it. Whether by the glass (starting at $5) or the bottle (hovering around $20), the prices are extremely reasonable. Our 4 bottles of wine, a cheese plate and the world's best-tasting olives only added up to $102 for our party of five. Our chill, Euro-style night of wine-soaked conversation only came out to $25 per person including tip.

The (lack of) parking is a bit of a deterrent but you can park at the nearby Farmer's Market lot or find residential street parking and walk the extra block. This semi-undiscovered neighborhood spot is ideal for "getting-to-know-you-while-I-show-how-casually-sophisticated-I-am" first dates, girls' night out catch-up sessions or for enjoying a glass of good wine in a bar setting without paying typical bar prices.

No comments: