Fantastic news for wine lovers around the Chengxi area! Wine O’Clock is a delightful new bistro with an obvious wine focus just a short walk from metro lines 2 and 5. Wine O’Clock is at the ground floor of the southern face of the Chengxi InTime Mall and is divided into a beautiful and brightly lit main dining area, a cozy bar, and an outdoor area that will see a lot of use once the weather is a little more forgiving.
Wine O’Clock’s menu has a largely Mediterranean bent with a few Chinese flourishes, with the clear intent of having an intensely flavorful set of delicacies that pair well with their extensive wine selection. And the specialty of Wine O'Clock is natural wine! Unfiltered. Raw. As real as it gets. In wine-speak, it’s called natural. Made without chemical, sulfites, and with minimal technological intervention (or low-intervention) in growing grapes, the natural wine scene has exploded in recent years. A mainstay in countries like Europe and Australia, where independent winemakers and growers cultivate in tiny batches and advocate a return to the vineyard and away from the technological manipulation, the natural wine movement is having a moment in Hangzhou and we can’t drink enough of it!
If you’re going there with a friend or two don’t forget to check out their set menu deals which is available to purchase on their Dianping page; one promotion they’re running now is a fantastic semi-set menu for 2-3 people for only 339RMB which includes a lot of the dishes I tried, and features some very interesting orange/amber natural wines. Try it!
We started with some excellent seafood appetizers; Stewed Clams with Garlic Sauce 招牌黄油蒜蓉汁烩白蛤 (38RMB) and the Smoked Seabass Tapas with Tomato Salsa 烟熏鲈鱼tapas配番茄莎莎 (48RMB), two excellent starters that pair beautifully with the natural white wine.
An aside about seafood: generally—generally!—having been in China for as long as I have has kind of spoiled me to a lot of western fishy dishes, as the quality and freshness of the best regional stuff is generally going to be a lot better than the European or American stuff that makes its way over here. Wine O’Clock is a nice and notable exception, and I’m finding more and more that the expectations one can have about the quality and authenticity of European-style food in Hangzhou should be raised. This is to say that the other seafood dish I enjoyed—Roasted Octopus Tail with Avocado Salsa 炙烤章鱼足配牛油果莎莎 (88RMB)—was likewise extremely good and tender and satisfying!
Next in our before-the-main-dish pre-feast was a delightful Burrata, Parma Ham, and Arugula Salad 布拉塔芝士火腿沙拉(88RMB); a Burrata is something I’m always keen to try if it’s available and I’m pleased that it’s more and more becoming the norm on menus with an Italian influence; in America these are still largely only available on the coasts, so a midwesterner like myself only started enjoying them after coming to this side of the world, and I’m a total convert.
Finally we moved on to the guilty pleasure part of the meal. The Roasted Beef Ox Tongue with Teriyaki Sauce 烤牛舌配日式照烧汁 (68RMB) was absolutely perfectly tender, so good I ended up devouring my portion as well as a good amount of the sample our photographer was snapping, even after it got cold. So good! Enjoy it with a red wine. We also enjoyed the “Pizza, Emiliana” 松露蘑菇意式香肠披萨 (78RMB) a very good parma ham and arugula pizza, and finally my favorite of the evening, Risotto, Porcini, and Pan-Fried Goose Liver 香煎鹅肝牛肝菌烩饭 (88RMB), let me tell you it’s very hard to do me wrong when you’re feeding me mushroom risotto and pan-seared foie gras. I don’t think I need to go into details here as risotto shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone, but this is a fantastically creamy dish on so many levels that everyone should try.
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