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Restaurant Review: Vinifera is a Jewel in Reston

We discovered Vinifera in Reston's Westin hotel and found a great place for fantastic wines and delicious food.

For our anniversary we were on the hunt for a new wine bar/bistro, someplace where we could enjoy tapas style appetizers and sample some different wines.  Our search led us to Reston’s Vinifera, tucked inside Reston’s Westin hotel on Sunrise Valley Drive (next to the Reston Sheraton). It is the perfect upscale, luxurious bar with spacious lounge seating to sit back and taste different wines and experience some sensational favors in foods.

What is even better, if you are with a group, is to order a cheese assortment, or a charcuterie, or they will even do a combo platter of imported cheeses, sausages and pates. This combo, served with their crusty warm breads and a gleaming glass of wine, would be perfect for a date night or group celebration.  Add to this a $1 or $2 lollipop-size taste of deliciousness—called pintxos. It is a single bite, and there are about 8 to 10 pintxos to choose from on their menu.  (Sometime soon I want to order them all and call it dinner!)

The night we arrived, the happy hour young professionals were gathering for some friendly banter at the bar area. We retreated to a beautiful outside patio area, with dark teak tables, large umbrellas and Roman-size urns of potted peppers and heirloom tomato plants, plus peach and apricot trees (some ready for picking). They grow a lot of their own herbs used in their kitchen.

Westin’s celebrity chef for is Bo Parker, who was absent the night we were there. However, a sous chef is often the true workhouse in most inspired kitchens and rarely gets their share of accolades. Our Culinary Institute of America-trained female sous chef that evening even prepared a special dark chocolate pastry for our anniversary (so let them know if it is a special occasion when you make your reservation). 

The left column on the menu is a list of small plates, from a mussels cioppino in a fragrant tomato broth with Pernod, to a seared scallop with tendrils of crunchy fried carrots on the top. My lobster cohiba was a slender, deep fried crepe tube of lobster meat and creamy filing, served in a dollop of sweet chili sauce. All were delicious and I would definitely order them again.

My recommendation is to split a salad, unless you want a large plateful as a separate course. Our Mediterranean salad, served with a savory herb olive oil,  soft-as-a-pillow goat cheese and assorted marinated olives and chopped tomatoes, was adequate enough for a greens tasting before our main course arrived.

The imported tuna (from Hawaii) that my husband enjoyed was glorious and had enormous flavor atop a ginger-soy sauce. But the star of the evening was my seared duck breast (ordered medium) and it was diagonally sliced atop a bed of seasoned farro (flavored with duxelle of carrots and fresh fennel). Every bite was enhanced by a dip into velvety prickly pear sauce. The mini-mound of shredded red cabbage was delicious. I purposely slowed down my pace of eating so I could enjoy every mouthful, and I would definitely order this again. Dinners run between $23 to $30, and glasses of wine average $9 to $12.

There are wines suggested with each meal in the menu, and trust them at their recommendations. I ordered a flight of wines (two reds and a white chardonnary—2 oz. each) and paced them to go with my courses. Be sure to take your time to study their extensive wine list, as they offer tastes of a lot of extraordinary wines.

The valet parking was not available when we arrived, so just drive beyond the front doors and follow the pavement arrows for the garage and wind around the corner to the backside of the building entrance to an underground free parking garage.  Follow the arrows for the elevator and it takes you directly to lobby level of the Westin. So parking is no problem—which is something you cannot always say about the bustling Reston Town Center. 

Nancy Loughin June 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Be sure to order their seared duck breast a "medium" and you will be delighted with the delicious, fanned, diagnonally-cut meat. We first tasted this in France 32 years ago in the Loire region. It is not a traditonal duck breast, but an infinitely more textured and flavored filet of duck breast. Sensational!!

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