A great Hyde Park hub for wine and appetizers
Reviewed by Wes Marshall, Fri., April 25, 2008
Food: Sun.-Thu., 5:30-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 5:30-11pm; Bar: 3pm-Midnight
Vino Vino4119 Guadalupe, 465-9282
Retail: Monday-Saturday, 11am-12mid; Sunday, 3-10pm
Restaurant: Monday-Saturday, 6pm-12mid; Sunday, 6-10pm
Every once in a while, something comes along that's like a gift from Bacchus for wine lovers. Such is Vino Vino, one of the hybrid wineshop/wine bar/eateries popping up around Austin.
Vino Vino has a friendly feel. About half the crowd is local Hyde Park people. The low lights, cozy seating, and beautiful bar are relaxed, while the uptempo music and crowd chatter add a little liveliness.
As you can guess from the name, wine is the driving force, but once you see the beautifully displayed wall of wine, you'll understand these guys are serious about their vino. Not only serious, but passionate. Wine guy Jerry Reid is tireless when it comes to ferreting out obscure and delicious wines. Like the 2006 Coenobium ($42), made in extremely limited quantities by Cistercian nuns in Central Italy. It's a blend of Verdicchio, Trebbiano Toscano, and Grechetto that makes a gorgeous white wine for Texas food, full of white pepper and almond aromas.
The food we tried is similarly inspired. The carpaccio ($10), with fennel, capers, and truffle oil, is simple, relying on prime fresh ingredients for its quality. We were amazed at the quality of the gravlax ($12), the best I've had in Austin, until we found out the chef worked at Aquavit in New York, every day turning 40 sides of salmon into gravlax. Practice makes perfect.
Owner Jeff Courington has also been around the Austin restaurant scene for years, working at Mezzaluna, Hudson's on the Bend, and Cafe Bleu. He's been at Vino Vino every time I've been there, and he's not just counting the money – he's doing most of the scut work. Both my wife and I thought Vino Vino's bathrooms were not only beautifully designed (why don't restaurateurs think about this more often?) but also spotlessly clean. We asked Courington to compliment whomever cleans them, and he said in his Big Spring brogue, "You're lookin' at 'em."
Comfy, great wines, surprisingly good food, reasonable prices – we'll be back.