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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Nine Best Wine Bars in St. Louis

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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  • RFT photo

Pomme Cafe & Wine Bar (44 North Central Avenue, Clayton; 314-721-8801)

Playful, bright Pomme Cafe & Wine Bar brings Parisian charm and sensibility to downtown Clayton. With a wine selection as exciting as its French brunch, lunch and dinner menus -- think pâté, chicken paillard and beef bourguignon -- Pomme has become a staple of the competitive Clayton restaurant scene...and a unique departure. Though its seasonal wine selection is less expansive than other vino bars, what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality. Bold vintage syrahs mingle on the red wine menu with sophisticated Bordeaux, while smooth bottles of bubbly and crisp pinot gris highlight the white-wine selection.

Ernesto's Wine Bar (2730 McNair Avenue; 314-664-4511)

Ernesto's Wine Bar brings a classic selection of fine wines to the Benton Park neighborhood -- something its namesake, Ernest Hemingway, would certainly appreciate. Its featured wine list is ever-changing, but it generally features more than 50 wines by the bottle, as well as a hearty selection of wines by the glass and exceptional seasonal wine flights. As outstanding as its wine selection is, the cocktail and beer menu is noteworthy, too, ensuring that even those who aren't oenophiles will have a tasty time. Though its food menu is small, it hits the mark, offering cheese and meat plates, flatbreads, sandwiches and wraps, all to sate grumbling stomachs.

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The Wine Press (4436 Olive Street; 314-289-9463)

Since opening its doors on the edge of the Central West End in 2008, the Wine Press has become a relaxed, cozy place to peruse an impressive selection of old- and new-world favorites. The ambiance is laid-back, the decor minimal and the experience is like no other. Live music entertains patrons most nights of the week, and the wine menu, which lists more than 50 bottles of red and white, keeps them on their toes and satisfied. The food menu at the Wine Press is also not to be missed, with Mediterranean fare and an entire course dedicated to cheese: soft, medium and hard. The ultra-knowledgeable staff will help guide the way.

Robust Wine Bar (227 West Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-963-0033)

When Robust Wine Bar opened its doors in Webster Groves a few years back, it brought new life to Old Webster. Situated near Straub's market on West Lockwood Avenue, Robust is a cozy, unassuming neighborhood favorite with a wine selection to rival the local competition. Owner and certified sommelier Stanley Browne selects only the finest varietals, with nearly 100 bottles available every night of the week. In addition to its large bottle selection, Robust also serves wine flights and grape by the glass, as well as day and evening food menus featuring gourmet fare crafted by chef Eric Brenner. The restaurant encourages wine pairings with its food, especially its tasting menu, which includes luxury dishes such as seared sea scallops, duck confit and roasted pork tenderloin.

click to enlarge LAURA MILLER
  • Laura Miller

Vin de Set (2017 Chouteau Avenue; 314-241-8989)

Vin de Set is a rooftop bar and bistro which (as its name might suggest) serves French cuisine. Its very lengthy wine list includes French, Mediterranean and American wines -- with more than 75 options by the bottle -- as well as beer and cocktail menus. Open for lunch and dinner during the week, as well as brunch on Sundays, its food menu is as worthy of praise as its drink menu: French gourmet options abound, including escargot, braised lamb shank and buttermilk duck confit.

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