Friendly people. Delicious food, and prices that encourage you to explore and come back again.
That's a short list, but it's a hard enough recipe that Pure Wine stands out for its success. This is a tiny space with a tiny menu -- one room off Main Street with maybe seven tables and a short bar. The list of small-plate dishes barely matches the cocktail list at some of your trendiest joints.
So why did we leave with huge smiles?
First of all, they serve a lot of cheese. We started with a plate of cheese and sliced meats that captured all the flavor and energy of a place like Woodberry Kitchen. We ordered some wines and some peach sangrias, and we nibbled our way through prosciutto, manchego, and more. The toast points, the bread and the marmalade on the side were those simple, tasty items that deliver something that I can't make at home.
Not that anyone needed to push the food on me. Meatball sliders were rich without being greasy. The fig and blue cheese flatbreads paired crisp prosciutto with gooey cheese. A mac-and-cheese was actually crunchy in parts. The beauty of small plates and seasonal menus is that these are dishes that the kitchen actually wants to cook.
One of Pure Wine's advantages is actually its tiny location. They've pulled off the magic spacing where nothing feels crowded, but the place fills with energy. The large plate glass windows give an on-the-street vibe that just makes it feel special if you eat most-often in shopping centers.
I wanted a second glass of wine. I wanted bread pudding for dessert. I was having so much fun that I wanted to stay, and I left really happy.
Two observations: First, Pure Wine lacks the right lighting for cell phone photos. They appear to be aiming at romance, not blogging. Second, Pure Wine doesn't take reservations. That's tough because seven tables and the bar fill up fast, but I understand why a small place needs the flexibility of first-come, first-serve.
Thanks to RDAdoc and Mr. RDAdoc for planning the night out. Donna Ellis wrote up Pure Wine last week for Explore Howard. I found that after I had written this review when I wanted to confirm the menu prices, and I think we echo each other's compendations.
Pure Wine Cafe
8210 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043
NEAR: Pure Wine Cafe is on Main Street in downtown Ellicott City. It is near the intersection with Old Columbia Pike. So the most-convenient parking is the spots along Main Street. But any of the public lots are reasonably close.