Last night a big group of people went out to dinner to City Winery to celebrate Mer’s bday (Happy Birthday Mer!) City Winery is in the West Loop and just opened about a month ago. The winery is a really interesting concept because not only is it a winery, but they also offer concerts and shows, wine tastings and classes along with the full restaurant.
This place is huge and I loved the interior/decor. The ceilings are really high, the space is wide open with lots of brick walls and glass. The restaurant is separated from the concert area, so I can only speak for the restaurant but I definitely think the space is large enough to not feel crowded, but still manages to feel very inviting.
We were served a sample of red wine right after arriving which I was excited about. I’m not a huge fan of red wine but I’m trying to like it, so having a sample was a great chance to try the wine without committing to a whole glass.
Once our whole party was seated, they brought out a couple more samples and I really liked every single wine that I tried. Most of the samples were red or rose. After finishing the samples, I ordered a glass of sparkling wine which was delicious.
We had some olives as an appetizer which were pretty standard.
A few people at the table also ordered sweet potato fries, fries and paella balls. I didn’t eat any of them, but they all got rave reviews and looked really good.
For my entree, I ordered the bianchi flatbread which had ricotta, goat and Parmesan cheeses. It had the potential to be great, but was just good because it was pretty bland. We asked for some salt and they accidentally brought us a dish of sugar instead! It took us awhile to realize that we were pouring sugar all over our food but we finally figured it out when we all kept adding it and our food wasn’t getting any saltier.
The entrees were also brought out at all different times–but we let this one slide considering the place is brand new.
Like how my shadow is completely distracting in this picture? I guess I was hungry and wanted to start eating!
The flatbread was a pretty big portion and I was definitely satisfied after eating it (minus the sugar part). A few of the other dishes were pretty small in terms of portion size–it seemed to vary depending on the dish.
The restaurant ended up giving us a free dessert for the sugar mistake-which was pretty nice but I think I would have rather gotten a free drink or entree . I almost never order dessert at restaurants so to me, it wasn’t that great of an exchange to get a free dessert for having poured sugar all over my food. But, at least it was something which is better than them having not done anything to fix the mistake.
The end of the night is where the downfall really was. We asked for our bill and the waitress asked if we wanted to split the check. We weren’t going to make her split it for such a big party, but since she offered we said yes. Not realizing she had to split it by hand (with a calculator), we didn’t really know what we were getting into. It took at least 45 minutes to get our bill and almost everyone was charged incorrectly which meant we had to send many of the bills back. For one person in our party, the first time they charged her 50 dollars, and when they brought her the receipt, they had charged her 95 dollars. Still not sure where that came from! They brought out two more wine tastings while we were waiting which helped a little bit, but, seriously? 45 minutes? That is ridiculous no matter how you are splitting up the bill.
We had a great time and a lot of fun in spite of the mistakes—but I don’t know that I would return. At least not for awhile to give them a chance to get some of the problems worked out.
I also was hoping they would have wine flights or something for a cheaper price–considering they make their own wine, but even the in-house wine seemed really expensive. I have been to other wine bars in the city that offer wine flights with about 4x as much wine as a single glass at City Winery for the same price. After all, people are mostly coming to sample the wine (which is very very good), so I think making the wine and tastings a little bit cheaper would be great idea.
Also, the food seemed to be fairly expensive and really hit or miss. If my pizza would have had a little more salt/flavoring, it would have been SO good. I know a lot of the appetizers were really well received, but the entrees seemed to be inconsistent.
I saw pretty consistent reviews on yelp about the price points being too high and the service being not very good so I know that our group was not alone in our experience. I understand that they are new and still working on the problems, but I really hope City Winery can get things figured out as this place is so cool and really does have some great potential. I’m really glad we went and gave it a try. All in all, it was a great night and if anything, we had fun laughing over how ridiculous some of the problems were.
After we had waited for our bill and we were all ready to leave and go to another bar, we realized that it was pouring rain and no cabs were available for about an hour. So back in we went and waited at the bar with some drinks and shots. We ended up having a ton of fun while waiting–so we definitely left the restaurant with a more positive attitude than we had an hour earlier.
When we finally got a cab, we headed out to celebrate, although I realized I didn’t get a pic with the bday girl!
I think I mixed about 8 different types of wine + 2 kinds of liquor last night with all the tastings. Normally that is a huge no-no for me but I really wanted to get a chance to try the wines so I decided it was worth it. I was pleasantly surprised that I felt fine this morning- I think it was thanks to the huge piece of pizza I ate before I went to bed.
How was your weekend?
Do you normally give restaurants a second chance if you have had a bad experience? I usually do–but it depends on if it was food or service. I’m usually pretty forgiving about bad service. Maybe I’m just not very smart