This past weekend Gabriele and I tried Grand Cru, a wine bar and bistro in the Ballston section of Arlington. I hadn’t heard much about it and don’t think of Ballston as having a lot of good places. It really delivered and we had a very nice meal.
It’s a bit tucked away amidst some high rises near the corner of Glebe and Wilson. It’s small and cozy, with a cosmopolitan yet relaxed vibe. Grand Cru is a wine store as well as a restaurant, and that really contributed to the experience.
They don’t have a wine list — you get up and peruse the shelves looking for a wine you’d like. Right off the bat that has to make a wine lover smile — you’re paying retail price plus a corkage fee, as opposed to double or triple restaurant markup. There is a pretty good selection with all the major geographies represented. The retail prices on some bottles I recognized looked on the high side, but still good bargains in a restaurant setting.
When she explained how things worked, our server told us they often reduce the advertised $12 corkage fee. Sure enough, our charge was reduced on the Decoy 2010 Red I picked out for our meal.
We tend to like California Bordeaux blends, and I knew Decoy was a second label of Duckhorn. It’s a Cabernet/Merlot blend with a juicy fragrant nose. It was light-bodied and smooth, with nice blackcurrant fruit. The finish was soft but lingering, and at the very end was a hint of spice. An extremely drinkable wine both on its own and with a wide array of dishes.
Our food was extremely well done. The charcuterie board to start was the most average of the bunch, but the mushroom strudel was really delicious. The main dishes really shined as well. Gabriele had Arctic Char in a Merlot glaze with acorn squash, roasted shallots and topped by thin sliced trumpet mushrooms. Really nice combination.
I had scallops done in a pleasantly different way. They were perfectly cooked and presented over pureed cauliflower with golden raisins, capers, thyme and lots of scallions. The flavors were very fresh and really popped.
Service was professional and pleasantly leisurely the night we were there, with the place about three quarters full. The outside patio wasn’t open that night but I bet it’s very pleasant on a nice evening. There is $2 parking in a garage about a block and a half away.
Grand Cru delivers a lot more than a nice bottle of wine at a fair price. We’ll be back soon.
Other stories you might like:
- Nice Value Wine Find at Carlyle Grand Last week Gabriele and I had dinner at the Carlyle Grand in Shirlington. Sort of...
- La Strada Delivers a Quality Italian Evening Gabriele and I don’t go out for Italian that often, like some of you I’ll...
- Palena Delivers Top Drawer Experience WINE & DINE COLUMN My latest Wine and Dine column was published yesterday on WashingtonExec....