Good to Go takeout: A.M. Wine Shoppe in Adams Morgan

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The next time you need a nice bottle of wine and something tasty to go with it, head to 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan. The new wine store at the corner of Wyoming Avenue happens to be selling some seriously good food.

A.M. Wine Shoppe opened on Jan. 25 in the space below Skynear & Co. It's the brainchild of Justin Abad, who is also an owner at Cashion's Eat Place, a few blocks away. He hired former Cashion's employee Andrew Akre as general manager, and together the two are building a loyal following. "People come in and say, 'This is just what we need,' " says Akre.

Abad is responsible for selecting the 60 or so largely European wines. He's the kind of guy who listens to your expectations and then finds a bottle that exceeds them. Most cost between $10 and $20; Saturday tasting events are coming soon.

A long farmer's table anchors the center of the shop, displaying containers of house-made granola ($3) and, if you're lucky, small sample cups of charcuterie or cheese. A.M. carries an impressive collection of cured meats that come from high-end domestic salumerias. Our current favorites are the beautifully smoky speck and the finocchiona, a fennel seed-studded salami (both $27.99 per pound). Italian bocconcini ($15.99 per pound) and peppercorn pecorino Romano cheese marinated in olive oil ($20.99 per pound) are among a long list of cheeses. Orders are prepared with great care, which allows time for exploring the store.

Any day of the week, choose from among three sandwich options, all $7.50 on baguettes from local Lyon Bakery. We loved the Admorghese or "Ad Mo," which includes finocchiona, mortadella, picante provolone, spicy diced marinated vegetables and a healthy dousing of good olive oil. Antipasti and hors d'oeuvres selections include pork rillettes scented with cinnamon and nutmeg ($6), taramasalata ($7), marinated roasted beets and mustardy potato salad (between $4 and $7, depending on weight). All prepared foods are made at Cashion's and brought down to the shop daily.

On weekends, the food options expand. Saturdays mean yeasty cinnamon-sugar doughnuts in the morning ($3 each, or four for $10), and Sunday customers can expect filled-to-order cannolis ($2.50 each, or four for $8).

The main Sunday event is Cashion's roast chicken, which comes by the half with a modest portion of roasted vegetables, plus potato salad, bread pudding and a bottle of wine (all for $28). We reheated our bird in the oven and loved its juicy meat and crisp, rosemary-perfumed skin. Only 15 to 20 orders are available, so call early in the week to reserve yours and be prepared to pay by phone: A.M.'s liquor license does not permit the sale of alcohol on Sunday, so it is necessary to make the purchase in advance.

Abad says his inspiration for all of this is Rome, where he spent time through the study-abroad program at George Washington University. "I gained a newfound appreciation for the simplicity of a nice bottle of wine, high-quality cured meat, cheese and a baguette," he says.

If the two customers we overheard conversing in Italian the other night are any indication, he's right on target.

-- Catherine Barker

A.M. Wine Shoppe 2122 18th St. NW, 202-506-2248; Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m; Fridays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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