Sip and Bite
** (out of four stars)
Sound Check: 68 decibels (Conversation is easy)
The attractive woman sitting alone at the bar at Kybecca Wine Bar & Shop in Fredericksburg was eating a light dinner and chatting with the chef in the open kitchen. How nice, I thought, as the waiter showed us to our table: This place attracts singles as well as couples and groups.
Later, as I returned from the restroom -- the place where I surreptitiously jot down notes about the place I'm reviewing -- I was shocked to see the same woman standing at our table chatting with my husband before walking away. Not that I was jealous or anything, but what the ... ?
Turns out she's one-third of the husband-wife-brother trio who own this charming new restaurant in Fredericksburg's historic downtown district. Most nights, at least one of the three is on the premises, helping to serve, talking with customers and generally adding to the warmth and affability of this sophisticated little cafe.
Kyle Snyder, 41, Rebecca Thomas Snyder, 38, and Matt Thomas, 32, began this venture by opening a tiny wine store four years ago. They added a few outdoor tables and started serving simple dishes that could be made with a panini press or toaster oven. When the mortgage company next door moved, they expanded into the space and hired 30-year-old chef Sarah Kapus.
As Kyle Snyder, a former Marine Corps drill instructor, puts it: His wife's the brains; he's the brawn. She designed the 54-seat interior, which opened in October, and he built it, from pouring the concrete countertop for the 12-seat communal table to welding the metal in the kitchen. With its exposed-brick wall, red and black accents and quirky collection of local artwork (June featured paintings of quizzical dogs), the effect is both fun and chic.
Obviously, wine plays a big part in the restaurant's offerings. Along one wall is an Enomatic self-serve wine system; customers can use a special debit card to pay for taste-size, half-glass or full-glass portions of a couple of dozen different wines. Prices run from as low as $1.20 an ounce to $10 an ounce. If you'd love to try the highly touted Paul Hobbs cabernet from California, for example, but can't afford the $170-plus for a bottle, you can buy a one-ounce taste for $6.
Or you can order from the long, eclectic list of wines by the glass or bottle. Not a wine lover? There's an equally long list of boutique ales and beers to try.
Before I get to the daily menu offerings, let me just say a few words about Kybecca's Sunday brunch menu: This, my friends, is why you get into your cars and suffer the drive on Interstate 95 to get to Fredericksburg.
Sit outside under the bright red awning, sip a glass of chilled prosecco and dig into a plate of slow-braised corned beef hash topped with a poached egg and a drizzle of vinaigrette (one of Kyle's home recipes). Or try one of the crisp, yeast-risen waffles sprinkled with local berries. Or a crepe filled with spicy, locally made chorizo and scrambled eggs.
Don't worry about pigging out. Afterward, you can walk it off at the melancholic Confederate cemetery nearby, or at the much livelier Fredericksburg Area Museum.