2007 Fall Dining Guide By Tom Sietsema Washington Post Magazine Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007
My favorite area wine bar isn't in Washington, but is far to the west of the city, in Warrenton. That's where you'll find the dashing new spinoff of Columbia's popular Iron Bridge Wine Company. Both restaurants are committed to the joys of the grape, with amusing categories ("I'm Thirsty" whites and "Close to Home" Virginia selections) and happy-to-pour-you-a-taste servers. These days, however, I'd give the edge to the younger place. Set on one of the prettiest main streets around, the horse-country branch opens into a long and narrow room whose walls double as wine displays and whose palette is warm in plum, copper and black (marble bar). Head downstairs, and you'll find a cozy warren of rooms begging to host private parties. One flight up from the main floor are tables ringing a balcony that peeks onto the action below. Snack-size plates dominate the menu, and your waiter is likely to (rightly) sing the praises of the shatteringly crisp duck confit nuzzled with diced pineapple, the spicy lamb sausage partnered with a soft pretzel and pickled red onion, and a trio of soups (asparagus with tangy goat cheese gets my vote) that resonate with the season. "Stop me, or I'll recommend everything," a chatty server jokes. Truth be told, ribbons of London broil get too sweet a sauce -- and the hovering waiter is such a presence that I'm tempted to ask him if he'd like to pull up a chair. "Worth the trip," a pal concludes as he finishes the last of his "Road Less Traveled" (actually, a 2005 Boutinot Cotes du Ventoux Chat-en-Oeuf) and reluctantly ends his mini-vacation from the big city.
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