Tuesday, August 04, 2009

First Look: Block 7 Wine Co.

This past weekend was White Linen Nights in the Heights. It's a fun night of walking around the Heights area in Houston visiting antiques, restaurants, bars, etc. There's also periodic kiosk's serving Saint Arnold's beer! Its a great night and fun to go with a group of friends. Which is what my wife and I did, but before heading to the event we stopped at the new wine shop/restaurant Block 7 Wine Co off of Shepherd right before you get to Washington Avenue. The place is broken up in to two almost separate places. When you walk in the front door of the restaurant on your left is a glass wall where the wine shop is. My wife and I, arriving a little early headed over there to check out the selection. The wines spread from Germany, to Spain, to California, to yes even Texas. All are chosen for their quality and price, and each wine is tasted by each employee. They currently have around 250 wines, but expect at some point in the future to up it to 500. They sell not only wine, but have a solid selection of craft brews. Unlike a lot of wine places in Houston that do retail and service, there is no corkage fee. So if you have a $25.00 bottle of wine and you want to have it in the restaurant its $25.00, which is pretty nice. A great wine selection, good prices and the additional fact of being able to also buy beer makes this part a winner
Once our friends arrived we headed over to the restaurant. The menu is eclectic with French Bistro type food paired with California food, with Italian food. Somehow this all works. My wife had the amazing Block 7 Burger that was perfectly cooked slightly red in the middle. Juicy and messy. I chose the Sloppy Guiseppe, basically a sloppy joe with Venison. This was absolutely wonderful, the shredded venison popped in the mouth and was rich and flavorful, was juicy and well seasoned. Our friend had the Croque Monsier which was also fabulous. To drink my wife and friend got a glass of white wine, and were helped out in their selection by the very knowledgeable staff. I had a beer of course. Its a pretty large selection, I'd peg it at around 30+ choices, everything from Korbinian Dopplebock (my choice) to Dale's Pale Ale to Chimay to Dogfish Head 90 minute ale. All in all a great selection. The other thing that surprised me was that in talking with our waitress she seemed knowledgeable about beer as well as wine. In most of these places they treat beer as second class, and don't seem to train their staff in beer nearly as much as wine. For the most part it doesn't seem that this is the case of Block 7. Notice I do say 'for the most part', which brings us to my one big complaint. All beer, no matter what you purchased seemed to be served in Shaker pints, which as a beer lover is just about the worst glass you can serve certain beers in. They do nothing to enhance your enjoyment of the beverage or helping to capture the smells and flavor of your favorite ale. Higher gravity beers need to be served in snifters or tulips not shaker pints, if you must, keep those for pale ales, lagers, wit's, basic stouts and porters.

In summary, I think Block 7 is an welcomed addition to the crowded wine retail shops in Houston. It's got enough difference between other places to stand out and probably has some of the best food that I've tasted. Its more complex than pizza and paninni's. I'm excited to go back and check out the rabbit loin flat bread, more beer, and some of the more interesting wine choices. As this was my first look at the place I'll probably be posting on this place again over the next couple of months and let you know if my first impression changes.

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