The Andersonville spot Uvae (5553 N. Clark St., and which has the full name Uvae Wine Bar & Fromagerie), unsurprisingly, gets its name from the Latin word for "grapes."
And guests might even expect many wine-related offerings that will please any oenophile, including wine tastings (public and private) and a wine list that would make almost every other local restauranteur envious.
However, what might be surprising for such a spirit-focused spot is the variety and quality of the culinary offerings at Uvae. Said surprises include a December wine dinner that includes frisee salad, cauliflower leek soup, beef Bourguignon and chocolate fondue.
Of course, things are likely to get off to a rousing start, thanks to the spot's popular happy hour. Patrons steadily trickled in on a recent weekday shortly after Uvae opened at 5 p.m, motivated in part by offerings of $1 oysters and shrimp as well as $4 draft prosecco (!). However, if you're willing to explore Uvae's dinner menu, a treasure trove of treats awaits.
Culinary items are divided into "Earth," "Sea" and "Farm." Although all items can be shared, the "Earth" offerings can be seen more as appetizers. My dining companion and I thoroughly enjoyed the crispy Brussels sprouts (with caramelized red onion, pork belly, crushed almonds and lemon aioli) as well as the deviled eggs. However, my friend was not quite as enthusiastic about his pate (whipped with lemon and scallions), as he hoped for a slightly sharper taste.
However, that was about the only blip either of us encountered during our meal. The ginger-chili shrimp (with crispy leeks and cauliflower puree) was wonderful, and the short rib burger with duck-fat curly fries proved to be a memorable comboin a good way, of course. Other menu items include roasted half-duck, maltagliati (roasted wild mushrooms, whipped ricotta and cracked black pepper), lobster cake, octopus, and roasted beets and burrata.
And the desserts! As great as we found the apps and entrees, my friend and I agreed that the dessert course was the best. The chevre cheesecake (with cranberry spice compote) and pear bread pudding with salted-caramel ice cream were lovelybut the chocolate pot de creme is a must-have. Chocolate mousse and brandied cherry topped with toasted meringue? I needed a moment to savor that dish after sampling it.
Although Uvae has plenty of wines, those certainly are not all it has when it comes to drinks. Cocktails include the Spiced Syrah, the Uvae Manhattan (rye whiskey, rainwater madeira, grappa and Noveis amaro) and the Winter Vacation (gin, vermouth blanco, Framboise and lemon), among others. However, the $5 mocktails are also definitely worth trying; my Gingerly Chill (pear ginger syrup, lime juice, ginger beer and ginger tea) was absolutely delightful.
It's easy to see why Uvae is a popular spot, as Chicago has plenty of wine drinkers. However, don't skip the entertaining and delightful culinary menu (as well as the fromagerie next door that offers everything from cheeses to gift baskets). Revel in the Uvae experience.
See uvaechicago.com .
Note: This visit was arranged.