Pure Wine Café: Small plates, big taste

February 01, 2011|By Donna Ellis

Among the intriguing things about Pure Wine Café is that everyone there — from patrons to employees — seems to be enjoying the experience.

This 32-seat wine and tapas place on Main Street in Ellicott City can charm you. The decor is simple and contemporary — bare-topped tables and black linen napkins with local art adorning the walls. There’s live music some nights after 9 p.m.

The place filled up over the couple of hours we lingered, attesting to the fact that this can be a late-night place for a glass of wine and a nosh. Our aim was dinner, and a goodly sampling of the small plates Pure Wine has been offering since May of 2009.

Chef Kevin Brothers, who did a culinary internship at Great Sage, has melded fresh, local (and imported) meat, poultry, dairy products and veggies with such exotica as fennel pollen, fig tapenade, pink sea salt and pickled shallots. Each dish on the tapas menu boasts a subtle and creative attention to detail. And the kitchen is generous with the artisanal bread, so even if the plates are small, a couple of them should fill you up.

We don’t usually mention an eatery’s wine list, but there is wine in this restaurant’s title, so … we did indulge in a couple of sommelier Mark Bowman’s by-the-glass selections. A pair of bubblies — a rose secco and a white prosecco, and tasted the cava reserva from Spain. Plus a couple of reds when the food came out. All were personable and charming. The wine list is carefully chosen, and seasonally changed, just as the food menu is.

The menu is all tapas with Spanish flavor. So, if you happen to be there when chorizo chili is offered, you’ll find a rich, sausage-y melange, but one that’s subtly and evenly spiced.

Small plate prices ranged from $5 for butternut squash bisque (thick, rich, lively with coconut milk, garnished with pepitas and served with toast points) to $16 for “autumn spiced beef brisket.”

Virtually everything that came out of the kitchen was charming, including “Purple Haze,” which featured a square of California chevre (goat cheese) set on a board with a thick, sweet fig tapenade, and ample toasts spread with lavender honey.

Smoked salmon crostini comprised a half-dozen toast points that had been spread with caper-dill infused mascarpone then topped with moist well-cured salmon and garnished with pickled shallots and lemon.

Our favorites were a pair of menu regulars, which owner P.J. Sloan says are perennial choices for their regular patrons as well.

The truffle fries were amazing. Crisp yet tender, seasoned with pink sea salt and fines herbes, served piping hot, with a truffled black pepper aioli for dunking. And the “duo of Catalan meatball sliders,” which boasted a pair of sandwiches, featuring Kobe beef meatballs, roasted red peppers, fontina cheese and a smoked paprika aioli on the bread.

Dessert that evening was pumpkin pie featuring a graham cracker crust and maple whipped cream, but, small plate or no, we had sampled 10 Pure Wine offerings and decided to try dessert another time.

Pure Wine Café is a little place, but large on charm, not to mention good food and drink. There aren’t many restaurants we try that we plan to re-visit, but this is one of them.

Pure Wine Café, 8210 Main St., Ellicott City. 410-480-5037 or www.purewinecafe.com.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.