Wine Oasis

Here are some flights you can actually enjoy

Urban Renewal

Table Fifteen Bistro & Bar ⢠11383 Parkside Dr. ⢠675-1721  

by Gay Lyons

Table Fifteen Bistro and Bar is a wine lover's paradise. The 29-page wine menu lists â“flightsâ” ranging from $10 to $23, as well as wines by the bottle or the five- or two-ounce glass.

For oenophiles, the writer crafts lovely phrases such as â“round and velvetyâ” and â“soft and jammyâ” and mentions elusive flavors: citrus and baking spice and black pepper. The rest of us understand references to â“casual sippingâ” and â“nothing wimpy.â”

Winos with a conscience will appreciate wines identified as organic, made from organically grown grapes, and/or from biodynamic, sustainable and/or carbon-neutral farms. The menu further caters to wine fanciers by offering pairing notes for almost every menu item.

I've enjoyed the Spanish reds and have found a new favoriteâ"a $23 sparkling shiraz from Australia. Being equally fond of both red and sparkling wines, I was hooked after the first glass. I've also shared a couple of flightsâ"â“Anything but Chardonnayâ” and â“Get Out of the Red Rutâ”â"chosen because the names amused me and the price points were right. As a slogan, I'm putting â“Anything but Chardonnayâ” on par with â“Friends Don't Let Friends Drink White Zinfandel.â” Tasting six wines was fun; so was arguing over who got to finish which wine after the initial swallow.

Common appetizers such as shrimp cocktail, marinated olives and a cheese platter are given uncommon touches. The shrimp cocktail comes with the traditional sauce but also with wasabi cocktail sauce and raw horseradish. The olives, studded with red pepper strips and garlic cloves, are roasted and served warm. The unique cheeses are so tasty that the platter's quince membrillo, fruit, Marcona almonds, and toasted bread would be superfluous if not so delicious.

Most of the dishes are casualâ"sandwiches, brick-oven pizzas, salads and dessertsâ"upscale versions with a twist. I ordered the roast beef sandwich after seeing someone else's. The combination of roast beef, gorgonzola and roasted red peppers on toasted flatbread was as good as it looked from afar. The soft, garlicky potato salad that came with it was an unexpected treat.

I've tried two pizzas: smoked salmon and bacon and Thai chicken. The small pizzas, cut into four attractively presented squares, are the right size for a one-person entrée or as a shared appetizer. The plentiful, thickly sliced salmon dominated the bacon, smoked gouda and sliced roma tomatoes. I was disappointed that the capers promised on the menu were omitted, but that's a small sin. The Thai pizza was perfect, with lots of grilled chicken breast, a zippy peanut-ginger sesame sauce, red onions, mozzarella cheese andâ"best of allâ"a generous scattering of roasted peanuts and only a slight sprinkling of cilantro.

The only salad I've tried is the Club Med, baby greens topped with pine nuts, chunks of feta cheese and strawberries, lightly tossed with a spectacular blueberry pomegranate vinaigrette. Next on my list to try is the blackened sirloin Caesar salad, which I passed up on my last visit, opting to sample a dessert instead. Salad or dessert? How tough a choice is that.

I passed on the other options and headed straight for the chocolate peanut butter stack. Layers of brownie cake alternated with layers of peanut butter, chocolate and caramel, and topped with peanuts and caramel formed a heavenly combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and soft. Drizzles of chocolate and caramel surrounded the rectangular stack, simply garnished with a raspberry and a mint leaf. It was the perfect size for two to share, a pleasant, not overwhelming end to the meal; however, if you like your desserts crowd-sized, you may think this one small.

The sparkly, prism-like tear-shaped chandelier in the foyer introduces a thoroughly modern scene. Textured art in rich shades covers the walls. Glowing glass panels with yellow and orange streaks lend a surreal touch that'd make Dante proud. Table Fifteen is elegant and sophisticated, all curves and rounded edges. It pleases both the eye and the palate.

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