Bar Review: The Riverview Wine Bar

The Riverview Wine Bar
3745-3753 42nd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

LET ME START BY SAYING that I'm in favor of all things Riverview: Theater, Cafe and Wine Bar included. The intersection of 42nd Ave. S. and 38th St. is a great little confluence, and it used to be a block from where I lived, and that's how I first became familiar with the Riverview Wine Bar. I would often walk over late on a summer evening and sit with a good book at the bar working my way through a couple glasses of one Malbec or another (I was really into Malbecs at the time), but that's only one of the ways to enjoy the Riverview.

The other night, the fiancee and I went over to have some dinner and split a bottle of something red. We sat in the lounge, which is a little conglomeration of couches and easy chairs right by the fire in the corner. The joint's got great ambiance-- very northern California (which seem appropriate)-- with maroon walls and intimate tables.

The place to start is probably with the wine flights, which is where I first learned about Malbecs. They have red and white flights, although I can't speak to any of the white flights, given that I don't like white wine. Sorry. I just don't. There's a flight of un-oaked wines (they've been aged in steel casks) and there's also a flight of Pinot Noirs that includes the required joke about the movie "Sideways." At this point, I should make it clear that I don't really know jack about wine, but I know what I like. Dry, mostly. And I can really act like I'm tasting it with authority, I think. Which is the most important thing.

There are a plethora of bottles to choose from as well, and the prices are pretty damn reasonable. You'll get some markup above what you'd pay at a liquor store, but nothing near what you've come to expect from a restaurant. On top of all this, they have a very solid selection of beers as well, including Belgian favorites like Orval and Chimay and bunches of regional microbrews and some other imports. Just a great place to get comfy and explore your palate.

The menu, while humble and basically composed of pizza and salads, is diverse enough to provide a light dinner. We had the cheese plate (which I think almost always includes manchego and drunken goat plus two other rotating cheeses) and split a pear gorgonzola pizza. The cheese selection was definitely not adventurous, the two wild cards being havarti dill and a French cheese whose name escapes me, but which was a little like Swiss. It might behoove them to cast a little further afield for their cheese selections, but still, solid crowd pleasers. The pizza was great, served on a flatbread-like crust and with caramelized onions and pecans in addition to the pear and gorgonzola. There are about five other pizza combos to try, plus desserts, of which we didnot partake. If none of that strikes your fancy, there are also some specials, which included chicken pot pie the night we were there and two soups: tomato basil and beef stew.

Total price for this light yet satisfying dinner was $47, which inlcluded a $21 bottle of Rioja (fruitier than I'm usually into, but in a more tart and less sweet way, so it was good). Cheaper than a reasonable night of sushi at Fuji-Ya, for sure. Not that I'm knocking the Fooj.

I give it, uh, four corks out of five. I just made that up. (McPHERSON)

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