Divine Bar is a wine bar and tapas restaurant. V and I went there for our birthday dinner tonight. I had scoped it out last week on the east side as a possible location for our birthday party, but decided it would be better for just a birthday dinner (partially because they serve only wine and beer at the bar - no rail drinks). My first impression was good the place seemed hip but not too trendy, you walk down a few steps to get inside and it had that kind of small downstairs feel, even with an upstairs accessible once you get inside. I felt like the crowd was slightly older than my age - which makes sense at a wine bar. I'm still in the mode of: drink whatever is cheapest, not what is the best Shiraz or whatever. Now that another year has passed, I'm edging ever closer to appreciating good wines. And, I got a wine Bible for Valentines day to figure it all out. So far, I know that Shiraz is masculine.
Anyhow, we ended up going to the west side location for dinner. It is just around the corner from "The Late Show with David Letterman" on 54th street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This location is much more open and trendy, with high ceilings and louder music. There was some kind of party going on upstairs, where we ate. I was expecting it to be more like the other location, but it wasn't bad at all. Being that it is a wine bar, we could order tasting "flights" of various varieties of wine. "Flights provide an entertaining and educational way to taste the range of wine flavors from a particular winery, region, country, or grape varietal." And so we did: 10 different reds between the two of us. We tried #6 and #9 and liked wines 61 and 93. I'm not going to get into much more of that. not until I finish the wine Bible at least.
As for the tapas, there is a great selection, of which we chose the baked brie, toasted ravioli (stuffed with lobster), tuna sushi roll, and the portobello, porcini, and shiitake quesadilla. Each was tasty and unique, a little different than we expected. We found it difficult to rate them or pick a favorite because they were each very good, and for different reasons.
Unlike V, I'd never before had toasted ravioli, apparently a staple in St. Louis. This was quite tasty with a lemon-caper-butter sauce and a nice crispy ravioli 'shell.' I found it a little thick-skinned, but I guess that's how toasted ravioli is. V called it "gourmet."
The tuna sushi was unique because it had a tortilla shell rather than the traditional seaweed wrap. The tuna itself was very good and the sauce had a sort of pesto-wasabi combo flavor that was nicely spicy. I felt like the tortilla added too much 'plain' to the flavor and texture.
The quesadilla's only problem was that we didn't eat it first so the cheese wasn't as hot and gooey as I would have liked. The mushrooms and suprise pine nuts and I think onions made it very tasty, and a good tapas portion size (about 6 inches around).
The baked brie was sweet and flaky and drizzled with some kind of caramel that made it hard to stop eating. There were also green and red apple wedges which added a nice crunch to the creamy cheese. I couldn't say it was my favorite because it seemed more like a dessert item with its sweetness...but it might have been my favorite.
We capped off dinner with fondue - white and milk chocolate with an assortment of fruit including blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, apple, and melon (too much melon). The chocolate was pretty good, but nothing amazing, and neither of us thought it was hot enough - the little tea candles burning below the fondue cups couldn't really do much to heat it up. Still it was a tasty end to delicious meal.
And I shouldn't forget to mention the cool chairs at our table! Both were velvet and comfortable, one was a swiveling armchair, which we had to share because we both wanted to sit in it. I'd like to try the east side location sometime, I think I'd like the atmosphere there a little better.