Wine Vault & Bistro
location > 3731-A India Street, San Diego
phone > 619-295-3939
chef > K.C. Holland & Bobby Matos
TUCKED INTO a cozy indoor/outdoor space on India Street, above Saffron restaurant, the Wine Vault & Bistro has an easily missed location and a name more suited to a wine bar. Truth is, it’s a full-service restaurant with a liquor license, a couple of first-class chefs, lovingly chosen wines and some extraordinary food.
Owners Chris and Mary Gluck’s goal “was to create a restaurant we were willing to go to,” says Mary. More than three years later, they cater to a group of fellow food-and-wine lovers who recognize a great deal when they see one. Three-course prix fixe dinners go for $20, five-course tasting menus for $30, and Chris’ carefully selected wines are a feast for lovers of Central Coast, Napa and Rhone-style offerings in particular.
A recent tasting menu opened with stylish ahi tartare topped with a quail egg, followed by white asparagus soup swirled with palate-tickling stinging nettle pesto. Housemade gnocchi with pancetta and maitake mushrooms made a fine third course; grilled hanger steak was rare and right on the money; and highbrow s’mores concocted from house-prepared marshmallow, freshly baked graham crackers and premium chocolate were a fetching finale.
Matching 3-ounce wine pours for each course cost extra (this particular night, $20), and it’s worth the money to sample selections rarely seen on local lists, such as Vision Cellars’ Syrah/Grenache Rose and Cimicky’s superb reserve Shiraz. You can also buy wine from the extensive collection housed on shelves throughout the dining room. (The corkage fee is $10.)
In addition to weekly three- and five-course dinners and wine flights, the Wine Vault holds frequent winemaker dinners, which generally sell out. Trust chefs Bobby Matos and K.C. Holland to come up with original, well-prepared dishes to complement the featured wines.
In addition to the tables in the simply furnished dining room, there’s seating on an outdoor patio complete with a fire pit. The clientele spans all age ranges and levels of wine knowledge, but keep in mind you need to be over 21 to dine here.
The Wine Vault & Bistro is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings on a regular basis (other nights vary depending on availability of guest winemakers and the owners’ schedule; check online calendar for specifics) at 3731-A India Street, 619-295-3939; winevaultbistro.com.