First Look: Vine & Tap, Buckhead

In February, Ian Mendelsohn, a former beverage director of the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead, and his wife, Susan, opened Vine & Tap in the former Pizzeria Venti space in the Lenox Village shopping center on Lenox Road. Clearly a labor of love, the elegantly remodeled restaurant, wine bar and beer garden serves up small bites made to pair with the curated beverage selections.

The look: Reflecting Mendelsohn’s background, perhaps, the open rectangular room feels a lot like an upscale hotel bar. Dangling Edison lights illuminate rows of cafe tables surrounded by comfy upholstered chairs and plush banquets. A long L-shaped bar and towering back bar steers the action toward the drinks.

The scene: On a recent Wednesday night, the monthly Woman’s Wine Tasting Club occupied most of the tables and a section of the bar, as Debra Lewis of Vintage ’59 Imports led a tour of the “Great Women Winemakers of France.” Those not there for the tasting could rely on Mendelsohn to offer advice and a few stories from his wine career, which included stints in Las Vegas.

The food: While wine is the star of the show, chef Chris Rabideau’s menu is pitched toward easy snacking with sophisticated touches. Cheese and charcuterie plates ($16/$25) feature selections from Many Fold Farms, Sweetgrass Dairy, Pine Street Market and Spotted Trotter. Bigger plates range from a grass-fed burger ($10) to Royal Red garlic shrimp ($15) and a jumbo lump crab cake with cocktail sauce and water crackers ($17.50). On the sweet side, there’s balsamic custard and strawberries ($7).

The drinks: Look for four wines on tap by the glass, half or full liter. A recent list ($7-$60) included an Australian Grüner Veltliner and a California Syrah. Other selections on the back of the food menu are available by the glass or the bottle ($9-$55), and tastes from the more expensive bottle list may be dispensed via a Coravin system in 3-ounce pours. A recent draft beer list included Wrecking Bar Altbier ($6) and Burnt Hickory Ezekiel’s Wheel pale ale ($7).

The extras: Look for $1 oysters on Monday nights, Tuesday night wine tastings from 6-9 p.m., and a private room for parties of up to 45 people.

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