11750 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20191
CUISINE Wine Bar, Modern American
PRICE $$$ ($21-$30)
HOURS Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday.
NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO None
SPECIAL FEATURESAccepts Credit Cards
By Warren Rojas
While thumbing through Vinifera’s globe-spanning wine list, I foolishly asked the seemingly pleasant waiter about his favorite local pour.
ere’s really only two wineries that are any good, and we don’t carry them,” the uncompromising chap shot back with authority.
A brutal, and clearly subjective, assessment of Virginia winemaking.
But one that I found to be refreshingly honest—given that less-principled servers might have gleefully pushed plonk in an effort to fatten the check.
Not here: in Vinifera veritas.
Temperature-controlled wine dispensers keep around two dozen bottles primed for sampling. The by-the-glass options tend split between old guard (France, Spain, California) and up-and-comers (Virginia, Lebanon, New Zealand), with most pours pricing out between $9-$20 a pop.
The 2007 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc wafted just-picked peaches up at me before tickling the palate with gooseberries, citrus and a faint grassiness.
A glass of 2006 Martín Códax Albariño thrust wildflowers in my face just before doing a slick, spicy pas de deux across my tongue.
The 2006 Brick House Gamay Noir proved thrilling. The lively red leapt from the glass, teasing my nostrils with lush red fruit while dousing my tongue in flirty tannins and vibrant berries (remarkably sippable).
My search for some middle ground led me to the remarkable 2007 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rose, a representation of the lushness the Languedoc can muster via flashes of cherry, plum and burnt cinnamon, with a mild oiliness that helps the red fruit cling to the back of the throat for a good long while.
After a rocky start (the restaurant has cycled through three chefs in as many years), chef Bo Parker appears to have finally brought the cuisine up to par with the fairly expansive wine program.
A healthy crab cake deposited amidst mashed butternut squash and whipped mascarpone rises up to face the gourd-and-cream treatment, deploying sweet meat to greet the savory dairy while marshaling a baked seafood presence to balance out the dulcet vegetable tones.
A tower of citrus-splashed tuna is bolstered by briny capers, crunchy pine nuts and crusty baguettes—all of which shine that much brighter when dabbed with the tangy, cippolini-backed aioli (sweetacular) provided.
Roast chicken proves big, flat and flavorful, its spice-tinged skin supplying ample richness, while the moist breast sops up a seductive honey-truffle sauce with gusto. A celeriac-potato puree pretty much just plays ball, but gets plenty of help from the perfunctory islands of acid that are hidden slivers of roasted tomato (culinary game-changers).