Wine pairing dinners and events are getting to be quite the popular trend with Salt Lake City restaurants. What I like about these events is they provide an opportunity for restaurants to showcase a different side of themselves, usually with dishes not available on the regular menu, but also by revealing a different side of the restaurant or staff. Events are also a good excuse to try a new restaurant or revisit one I haven’t been to in awhile.
Meditrina Small Plates & Wine Barheld a Red, White & Bleu Wine Social last week as a patriotic nod toward the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day using a fun play on the “bleu” in bleu cheese. The event paired four summery wines with four dishes for $40/person. My girlfriends and I thought it was a great excuse to celebrate a Tuesday night (what’s not to celebrate; it’s summer!) and, in their case, try a new restaurant. (I have been to Meditrina on a few other occasions spread over a few years.)
The first pairing was Chateau Reynon Sauvignon Blanc with chilled golden beet soup with a tiny dollop of creme fraiche topped with dill. The wine was a hit; we really enjoyed how refreshingly crisp it was, making it a great summer wine. The soup, however, was a miss. First off, the soup was comically small. Luckily the spoon provided was miniature, otherwise the entire dish would have been consumed in a single spoonful with a regular-sized utensil. Additionally, the texture was oddly grainy and goopy thick, too. Meagan, who struggles with textures, had one taste and passed on the rest. Laurin and I didn’t mind the texture, but I will admit it was strange.
Next up was Domaine de Rieux Gascogne Blanc and French leek pie with pears, gruyere and greens. I really liked the range of flavors in this dish, from tangy pear to bitter arugula and crunchy leeks. It was a good summery dish that went well with the wine.
That was followed by Chateau Blouin Rouge and beef bourguignon with fresh cherries, carmelized onions, crimini mushrooms and noodle galette. Food-wise, this was my favorite because it was so complex. The cherries were almost undetectable; I only knew they were there because of the menu. The onion and mushroom flavors were the most dominant besides the beef and overall created a hearty dish with a range of textures thanks to the shredded beef, noodles, onions and mushrooms. The wine, our only red of the evening, complimented very well, subtly enhancing the rich flavors.
The pairing ended with Chateau Cantegril Sauternes and bleu cheese and apple pain perdu. This was my first experience with the apple and cheese team, which I usually only hear of with cheese on apple pie. I’ve always been intrigued by the combination of the two and the flavor of the bleu cheese does compliment the apple surprisingly well. It’s definitely a different taste in my opinion, but I liked it. The wine added a third dimension, increasing the sweetness of the dessert; finishing off our pairings on a high note.
In addition to the pairings, we ordered a plate of crab cakes ($8 for two) that were tasty but not incredibly memorable (I feel like crab cakes rarely are), and a charcuterie plate ($15). The charcuterie plate was interesting in that it seemed like it had so much on it, but it turned out to be a bit of an illusion, at least when splitting it three ways. What was there–prosciutto di parma, Creminelli salumi, three different cheese and some bread–was good, but there just wasn’t enough of it.
I have been to Meditrina on several occasions and every time have left feeling underwhelmed. It has great potential from everything to the menu to the atmosphere, but just doesn’t quite make the cut in my opinion. The dishes we had during the pairing were creative, using ingredients that I wouldn’t think would mesh well together but did (like beef and cherries or leeks and pears), but the rest of the menu appeared to lack that ambitiousness, not to mention the portions seemed small for the price. Of course, since it’s a small plates restaurant, you could order one of everything for a completely full meal, but be prepared to pay for it. As for the wine event, I would have liked to know more about the wines during the event, but our host didn’t tell us much beyond their names. The night itself was enjoyable and I didn’t have any strong complaints about any of it, but I will think twice before I go back to Meditrina again.