Grapes Wine Bar of Annapolis is a hidden jewel among Annapolis food stops. Located in the Clock Tower Plaza on Forest Drive, it’s been a haven for delicious French cuisine and wine for eight years. It doesn’t hurt that Wine Cellars of Annapolis, the source behind Grapes’ superb wine selection, is right next door. Owner Patrick Bouculat opened Wine Cellars nearly 17 years ago later followed by Grapes, thus forming a perfect loop of wine and gourmet eats that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Amidst wine barrels and wine bottles, I had the chance to speak with Ellen Spicknall, General Manager of Wine Cellars about some of the great new things happening at Grapes. Grapes Wine Bar is now open for lunch Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 3, July 27th to Labor Day Weekend. They’re partnering up with Harris Farmer’s Market (available Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6) to provide farm to table dishes during these new lunch hours.
I was able to try one of these dishes during my visit in the form of a tomato-based gazpacho. Gazpacho is one of my absolute favorite things to eat in the summer and I look forward to trying some of the season’s best fruits and veggies one bowl at a time. As it happens, I had their cucumber and melon variety right before writing this blog. Both versions were outstanding, the first involving just the right amount of vinegar and the latter involving just the right amount of sweetness.
Along with the gazpacho was a watermelon salad, exactly what I needed to help beat the heat. More watermelon than salad this dish checks all the boxes for me: sweet, juicy watermelon cubes piled high with a few sprigs of arugula for good measure, feta cheese, pickled rhubarb, balsamic glazed onions, and mint ice. Yes, you read that right: mint ice! It’s even better than it sounds, especially atop this majestic combo. I've never used majestic to describe a salad, but it truly is the best adjective.
I would be remiss if I didn’t shine some light on the tray of freshly shucked oysters that also accompanied my meal. Grapes Wine Bar typically has at least one or two varieties in store for those who enjoy this particular shellfish, my favorite being the Raspberry Points. I get them every time they have it, which is often. They’re a perfect taste of the ocean: wonderfully salty with a clean flavor and just a hint of sweetness at the end. They pair with so many of Grapes’ wines. I happened to be sipping on a lovely French rose, Domaine LeFage Miraflors.
Last, but not least, were the kobe beef sliders; a staple on Grapes Wine Bar's menu, and not to mention my diet. Who can say no to two tender kobe beef patties on brioche with your choice of Southern Comeback sauce and Gorgonzola fondue?
Everything at Grapes Wine Bar was fantastic as always and I can’t wait to come back and give their farm to table lunch a go. I may have even snagged a bottle or two of wine from the “bargain barrel” over at Wine Cellars while I was there. Every bottle in the store is priced at case price or below and so naturally I had to grab the $10 Spanish Albarino and $20 Pinot Noir from Willamette. Shoutout to Grapes’ Executive Chef Daryl Travers for giving me a taste of the strawberry shortcake he had just baked. (Did I mention the desserts? You should definitely get one of everything.) There’s just so much to enjoy at Grapes Wine Bar you’ll wish you found this gem sooner.
Videography courtesy of Patrick McNamara of Drawn to the Image