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Wine Thief

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Wine thiefThe 7100 block of Germantown Avenue seems to be emerging as Mount Airy’s own restaurant row. From coffee to quesadillas, you can pretty much get whatever you crave on this busy little stretch between Mt. Airy and Mt. Pleasant Aves. With the addition of Wine Thief this summer, you can now include “wine bar” and “comfort food” on the list of enticing options.

Taking its name from a tool that allows winemakers to sample straight from the cask, Wine Thief is committed to making wine accessible and affordable. The restaurant limits its markup, offers several styles and grape varietals, and sells by the glass, carafe, and bottle so that diners can try a range of wines without breaking the bank. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find several wines in the range of $6-$8 per glass.

Likewise, Wine Thief offers reasonably priced, upscale comfort food with Asian, Latin, and American influences. Chef Jared Cohen has created a mouthwatering menu that puts a sophisticated spin on simple, traditional dishes like meatloaf and fried chicken. From the start, you’ll be delighted (and probably a bit overwhelmed) by the appetizers. If you’re anything like me and the gang I dined with, you’ll be fighting the urge to order one of everything. Don’t fight too hard. The mussels in Thai curry sauce and the sausage plate are too good to be missed. The eggplant cheesecake was pretty good too. But one quick word of warning: watch your teeth on the severely over-toasted crostini.

The entrees are just as tempting as the starters. The organic fried chicken was a masterpiece on a plate and just as delicious to eat—crispy, clean, moist. The steak was juicy, well-seasoned, and paired perfectly with a sweet plantain fritter. And for the vegetarians, the shepherd’s pie is a complex, meatless interpretation of the original, topped with chunky, fresh mashed potatoes.

Wine Thief

In fact, I unequivocally recommend Wine Thief’s fare. But the ambitious bistro still needs to work out a few kinks before the entire dining experience will rise to the level of the amazing food.

If our visit was any kind of an indicator, dinner at Wine Thief is an all-night affair (read: be careful about making plans for afterwards). All told, we spent 2½ hours at the restaurant, including the 45 minutes we waited for a table after they “lost our reservation.” And let’s be clear: Reservations are imperative. This is not a comfortable spot for an extended wait. The bar has very few spaces, and the limited standing room leaves you hovering over the seated diners or blocking the entryway. We also waited once we got to the table. There was some serious lag between courses, and our server wasn’t particularly attentive (she didn’t check to see if we needed more drinks, trashed leftovers we asked to take home—that sort of thing). We may have stayed for dessert (we are definitely a dessert crowd), but everything else took so long we were ready to call it a night.

We were also cramped and warm—which leads to my other major complaint about Wine Thief. It’s way too crowded and uncomfortable, especially for a place specializing in comfort food. There are a lot of tables crammed into a little space. Taking out just two or three throughout the restaurant would go a long way to make it a more relaxed environment, where diners aren’t on top of one another.

Finally, for a wine bar, the relationship between the wine and the food could be much stronger. Neither the menu nor the wait staff (at least not our waitress) suggest appropriate wine pairings. This could be particularly helpful considering the exciting range of affordable wines the restaurant has to offer.

All in all, Wine Thief is an okay restaurant with great food. With just a few fixes, it could be a great restaurant with great food. Either way, I will definitely go back. The menu is incredible, and despite Wine Thief’s shortcomings, I was left with a good taste in my mouth.

 

Address: 

7152 Germantown Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19119-1843
(215) 242-6700
winethiefbistro.com  


 

Hours: 

 

Sun., Mon., Wed., Thurs.: 4 p.m.-10 p.m.

Fri. & Sat.: 4 p.m-11 p.m.

Closed Tuesdays