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Wine flows through Mediterranean Tapastrie

Time:2016-11-11 11:51wine - Red wine life health Click:

Wine tapastrie mediterranean cuisine south bend

You know Tapastrie is serious about its wine the minute you walk through the front door and see the wine dispensers just beyond the bar holding multiple bottles of reds and whites for convenient tasting.

The way Tom Welsh explains it as he moves across Tapastrie’s dining room toward one of the dispensers, each needle inserted into the bottle sends nitrogen through the cork, which preserves the contents by filling the space inside with nitrogen instead of oxygen.

“So that means a bottle lasts a lot longer in the machine than an open bottle does behind the bar,” Welsh says. “And that enables us to offer a higher level of wine through these machines.”

A taste of Tapastrie

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It’s been nearly one year to the day since Welsh and Fiddler’s Hearth matriarch Carol Meehan opened Tapastrie in the former Vine building on the corner of Michigan Street and Colfax Avenue after the city, which owns the building, used a court order to close its predecessor, The Vine, in May 2014 over a failure to pay rent. The Vine had operated in the corner spot of the building since 1998 and served as one of downtown South Bend’s fine-dining destinations.

On Wednesday, Tapstrie will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a wine-tasting event featuring wines from around the world, plus offerings from a menu rich with Mediterranean cuisine. Welsh has overseen the development of Tapastrie’s menu, while Meehan and her husband, Terry Meehan, spearheaded the updated restaurant’s refurbishment work.

“We took everything back to the original walls. … We took everything out except the building,” Welsh says. “Like this wooden floor, it’s from the Studebaker factory floor — the wood on the bar, and the wood on these back benches. Terry (Meehan) and a couple of helpers pull all this up and put in the factory floor.”

Welsh, who co-owns and operates Tapastrie with his sister, general manager Peggy Swihart, cultivated and stylized the menu with “a pan Mediterranean theme” under the tapas premise — small portions of appetizers or snacks served on small plates to promote conversation and sharing rather than concentrating on a full meal.

“Tapas is mostly associated with Spain,” Welsh says and adds that Tapastrie’s menu offers a blend of recipes culled from cultures throughout the Mediterranean, “Greece and Lebanon, for example. The concept was my idea, something that’s been in my head for a long time. I did a lot of traveling. I lived in Cypress for several years, and I just kind of thought about it then … how it would be interesting to have that kind of dining with different cuisines.”

There isn’t one “singular most popular” dish, but diners hit Tapastrie for the roasted chorizo-wrapped Medjool dates filled with a Manchego cheese blend; the Albondigas, or lamb meatballs; and then there’s the Mediterranean dip sampler, a combination platter of tapenade, baba ghanoush and labneh. Paella, offered traditional, vegan or “Fun paella” filled with squid ink, shrimp, snow crab, wild cod and clams, is a Tapastrie staple that serves two to three people.

Still, it’s all about the wine at Tapastrie, particularly every week on Taste of Tapastrie Tuesday.

“We pair three different two-ounce pours of wine with different dishes they do in the kitchen,” Welsh says. “It’s like an appetizer with a glass of wine.”

Welsh gets up from the table and leads the way down the staircase into the wine cellar, which has been remodeled into a charming, rustic dining area used primarily for private wine-event parties.

Back upstairs at the bar, bar manager Wally Ruston pours a glass of red. “It’s from Spain,” he says while finishing his pour and then offers a taste from a second opened bottle, this one a red blend from South Africa.

“Apparently, yeah, it was an opportunity,” Welsh says, recalling that first conversation with Carol and Terry Meehan at Fiddler’s Hearth a couple of years ago when the idea of opening up a wine bar and restaurant was first broached. “I always thought I’d do something like this, and I figured it was time to put up or shut up.”

Tapastrie

• What: Mediterranean tapas-style cuisine with a focus on wines from around the world

• Where: 103 W. Colfax Ave., South Bend

• Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 5 to 11 p.m. Saturdays

• Prices: $26-$4

• For more information: Call 574-232-9200 or visit the website tapastrie.com

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