Brooke and I found ourselves with nothing exciting to do on a Friday evening recently, and so we decided to go out on a dinner date together. I had been to 4th and Vine (www.4thandvine.ca) a couple of times when I lived beside Oliver Square, and once with our dinner club, and this last time there a few of the other gals tried the duck salad and raved about it. I decided we needed to go back and try it for ourselves.
4th and Vine is a small wine bar and bistro in the Oliver Square area. They have a large wine selection, with choices by the glass or bottle, and they offer wine flights as well if you want to try some new selections. They run tastings on Tuesday nights, and show movies on Sunday evenings. I am dying to go to one of the movie nights; it would be an excellent choice for a slightly more refined version of the standard dinner and a movie date. It also works well for dinner with the girls before going out if you are heading to a near-by local such as Hudson’s (across the parking lot) or the Druid (a few blocks south). Going there still feels like you are going out for dinner downtown, but with more parking.
Each time I have visited, the food has been well above average, to the point that when a menu item gets removed, I can be left a little disappointed (until I try something new). Price wise, it would be mid range, with Tapas and Appetizers typically running at $10-$12, and Mains topping out at $26. The restaurant has nice ambiance. It is long and narrow, so you feel like you have a bit of privacy seeing as patrons only run about two tables deep, and there is lots of candlelight, giving it an air of romance. For those of you like Brooke and I, who enjoy wine, but are not sommeliers by any stretch of the imagination, each menu item has a suggested wine pairing from the list of wines by the glass. If you don’t want to try the suggested wine, the wines by the glass offer more selections than most restaurants, and are ordered based on body (red) or dryness (white).
On this visit, we arrived knowing very well what we wanted to have, and so after a few minutes of pretending to consider each of the menu selections, we ordered two duck salads. When they arrived I had a momentary fear that I might still be hungry after eating seeing as the salad is not a giant overflowing bowl of greens like most main course salads. It is an attractive arrangement with the salad piled at one end of a rectangular plate, and the duck and a mustard condiment artfully arranged off to the side. Do not expect a full duck breast. Ours came with three slices of a duck breast each. Given that duck is fairly fatty meat, it seems like plenty once you get eating. Add to that that the salad was filled with decadent treasures such as goat cheese, peppered pecans, sun dried tomatoes (as well as a sun dried tomato vinaigrette), and blackberries and you will understand why it ended up being more filling than expected at first glance. When we got the salad, we thought it had dried blueberries as opposed to blackberries – perhaps it was a substitution? This salad alone warrants a special visit.
We strayed from the wine suggestion and went with a white wine instead, just to suit our taste that night, not because we thought it would be a superior pairing. It was nice, and wasn’t too bad of a match seeing as we were having salad as opposed to a full duck main course.
To wrap the evening up, we considered the dessert menu, but decided instead to split the Baked Brie Tapa. For $12 I was quite impressed by the amount of food we got. The brie was wrapped in phylo and served warm and melty with a side of apple, pear and kiwi slices, dried mango pieces and some dried blueberries. In my mind, mixing pastry with cheese and dried mango is pretty much the equivalent of heaven in my mouth. There was plenty for us to share.
The service was good in that it was barely noticeable. Our food arrived in a very timely fashion, and no one pestered us by repeatedly asking how things were while we had our mouths full of food. No one made us feel rushed after dinner while we chatted for a while after the bill came. Everything just seemed so smooth that we concentrated on our dinner and visiting as opposed to the staff, and in my mind that is perfect service.
All in all the visit was excellent and I will certainly be returning.