The concept of pairing food and wine or food and beer together during meals has been around for a long time, but Coppervine, a unique restaurant in the heart of Lincoln Park is taking it to a whole new level. Managing partner and sommelier Don Sritong, along with Chef David Wang have created a unique seven-part menu that includes a wine, beer, or cocktail pairing suggestion for each and every dish.
Their menu reads, “We are in constant pursuit of the perfect pairing. In its most basic sense, a great pairing occurs when the food and drink taste better together, than apart – when the flavors of one enhance, complement or uniquely contrast the other.” After trying five delicious dishes along with pairings I had to say that they are pretty close to perfect. Being much more of a food lover than a wine or beer connoisseur, I often have trouble picking the right beverage to go with my meal and I love that Coppervine made it so easy. I also love that you have three types of alcohol choices depending on your mood or the occasion.
Don started us off with their classic ahi tuna tartar with sushi grade tuna, cage free eggs, breakfast radish, capers, shallots, giardiniera aioli, and sweet pea sprouts. I love fresh, raw tuna so of course this dish was right up my alley, but I loved that it was completely different from what you think of a normal tuna tartar. It was nice to have a break from wonton chips and sriracha and experience the classic flavors in a whole new way. Don paired this dish with a beautiful rosé, a 2013 Sabine Bieler Pere et Fils, from Provence, France. I always choose a white wine with sushi, but the rosé really brought out the natural clean, sweet taste of the tuna.
Next we had the blue lump crab fritters with smoked corn and a guindilla pepper aioli. The fritters had a good amount of crab meat in them and were deliciously moist. Sometimes fritters can be over-fried which causes them to become dry and flavorless; I didn’t find that the case at all with these. I also loved that Don paired this with a beer, specifically the Brooklyn Blast IPA. Even without being a pairing expert, this girl knows you can’t go wrong pairing beer with a tasty fried dish!
The cocktail that came with our next pairing was called the Balance Beam and it was comprised of Hendrick’s Gin, yellow chartreuse, kiwi shrub, celery bitters, and cucumber soda. In the summer I pretty much love any cocktail with cucumber because of its cool and refreshing taste. In combination with the gin and woodsy tasting kiwi shrub, this drink was the perfect pairing for the arugula pesto flat bread with marcona almonds, truffle, parmesan, and granny smith apple matchsticks. The apples lent both a sweetness and tang to the dish that cut through the oily pesto and almonds.
After a bunch of delicious starters, we were presented with a new spring addition to the menu, English pea agnolotti, haricot vert (French green beans), lobster mushrooms, burratta cheese, and mizuna. Taste Tester #1 loves pasta so this dish was right up his alley; the peas in the pasta were fresh and sweet, and as a meatless dish the hearty lobster mushrooms and burratta cheese really filled it out. The pasta was paired with a crisp 2013 Gotham Project Sauvignon Blanc from Chile that really reinforced the feeling of spring.
Our last dish was my favorite, a Maine lobster BLT with Nueske’s apple smoked bacon, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and thick and flavorful truffle mayo. I’ve had lobster BLTs before but this was one of the best I’ve ever had! The Texas toast was both toasted to buttery perfection and the perfect size for a hefty portion of lobster. Our last pairing was a Tripel Karmeliet, Brouwerij Bosteels beer from Belgium that paired well with the thick toast and salty bacon.
Overall, Taste Tester #1 and I loved every aspect of our meal at Coppervine. The way the menu is broken up into several different sections makes it easy to come in for a quick bite or sit down for a fully paired meal. The wait staff was very helpful and knowledgeable as I saw them assisting many other customers with their food and drink pairings. While similar restaurants can be found throughout Chicago that have great beer and wine menus in their own right, Coppervine brings a slick and different concept that provides a new high end food and drink element to the Lincoln Park neighborhood scene.
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