Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spill the Wine: Minneapolis, MN

Spill the Wine
1101 Washington Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55415

What Makes This Place Unique?
It's a very neat wine bar that has a good small plate menu but to be honest, I hadn't heard anything about the chef, food, or wine selection and reacted on an urge to buy a $50 Groupon for $25 there and give it a chance!  

I even tried to find a bio about the Executive Chef or something unique about their business online or through a magazine review but besides being recognized for the atmosphere and the restoration of the building...I was unable to find anything.  If Spill the Wine is reading this, put up something on your website or an "About Us" section!  No background or connection to what you're trying to do!

What Do They Serve Here?
Spill the Wine offers a wide variety of small plates, as well as a decent selection of larger lunch and dinner portions.  As far as dishes, pretty predictable for a wine bar but good.  Small plates that caught my eye include: roasted baby beets with goat cheese, pecans and balsamic, duck rillettes and fig marmalade, chorizo & ham, machego and piparras, mussels & curry broth, ahi tuna.  Prices range from $4-13 and like I mentioned, they are pretty predictable but there is a variety.

Bigger plates include: pork belly burger with parsley aioli and pickles, lamb chops with a sage brown butter, truffle gnocchi with foraged mushrooms peas and brown butter.  The menu also offers a tasting menu and over lunch they did have a soup and sandwich option that wasn't listed on the online menu.  Pricing ranges from $11-19 on the bigger plates.

Their drink menu and wine list has a TON of wines (duh - it's a wine bar) and according to an article that I read online, they do offer a lot more wines by the glass than many wine bars in the area and are known for their intuitive drinks, to which I can attest. 

What Did We Get?
Well, I had a Groupon and so I had to spend $50 over lunch so my coworker Shannon and I headed over to do just that, let the binging begin! 
Ginger Rogers: Hendricks gin, mint, ginger syrup, lime juice, ginger brew ($9)
Roasted Baby Beet Salad: beets, goat cheese, pecans, balsamic ($7)
French Fries: no description on the menu but they are actually truffle fries, amazing ($9)
Tuna Small Plate: olive tapenade with greens and olive oil ($13)
Shannon also ordered the lunch combo which was a grilled skirt steak that has a celery root, onion and apple slaw with arugula and was served with cup of chili.  That day they had chili and minestrone for soups as I recall and the combo was very reasonably price (under $10).  

As far as taste, the truffle fries were the clear star for me.  They were awesome; I would get them again and that's a lot to say about fries that cost $9!  The Ginger Rogers house cocktail was also very unique and mixed well with the right amount of booze. The rest (beet salad and tuna) was on par; the flavors and textures were all there for me and I have nothing bad to say about the food.  It met the standards that I have for food priced out where it was.

The atmosphere was very warm and inviting with great restoration elements but there was something that wasn't so warm and fuzzy.  The server situation that we had was one of the worst service experiences that I've ever had.  My coworker tipped her 20%, but neither of us was sure why.  Maybe we felt like she was just having a bad day or something, but, I wish that I would have asked or told her some of the following questions and thoughts about our extremely poor experience:
  1. I have a Groupon, and obviously telling you that at the beginning of the meal was a BIG mistake.
  2. If we ask if we can get the soup that was ordered with the sandwich before the meal with the appetizers, is that really that big of a deal? Alright, well as you said, apparently you usually don't do that so let's NOT be flexible.  You hold your ground.
  3. If we ask "What's good?" and you tell us "Everything.", then you should probably try something on the menu.  You're at a wine bar and there are probably foodies in your presence...try something on the menu and be able to speak to it...
  4. Would I have had a $50 bill and then tipped you 15-20% of that on a normal lunch day?  Then why are you being so rude to me?
  5. Another tip: If you want a diner to have a good experience, maybe you shouldn't say things like "you're going to get that too?" when I'm ordering a dish.  Yeah, I'm a fat cow.  THANKS.
  6. Last tip, I promise: Stopping by the table might help.
While I understand that was pretty harsh, I was a server for quite a few years and if there is one thing that I can't stand it's situations like this.  I feel terrible for the owners and chef because they weren't privy to seeing this behavior when it happened but if I'm seeing it, other people are too...and if your ratings aren't where you want them to be, then how else can you find out but through resources like this?  The good, the bad and the ugly about the internet.

I've seen that in most cases Groupons are used as a marketing tool to get people through the door for a great experience and to get these first time customers to become patrons...and this server was not helping your mission and it's sad because little did she know that we worked right down the street (within walking distance) and if we would have had a rockin' experience, then we probably would have been back.

Would You Go Again?
I want to say yes, but, the answer unfortunately is no.  Until I start seeing more positive reviews online and a more inventive food menu I probably won't be back.  There are just so many options over on that side of town and if I don't have good service or an inventive menu....nine times out of ten I'm not going to leave my house for wine alone.

Spill the Wine on Urbanspoon

Search terms: spill the wine minneapolis, wine bar minneapolis, spill the wine food, spill the wine review


  1. Good review. Well written. Hopefully google search pulls up your post when people look for this place and hopefully management sees it and does something about it. I always write bad reviews online when I have a bad service experience somewhere because it pisses me off so much that I feel the need to seek justice : )

    1. I don't usually put a bad service experience as part of my reviews as it's such an isolated problem (versus having some issue with the dining room layout) but I really wanted someone to be aware that that was happening in their restaurant and be able to take care of it. Plus, because it was just THAT bad. Otherwise, how would you know why you're not getting business? Hopefully they are able to see it and prevent it from happening in the future through training or other means.

  2. I have been to Swirl a few times and keep wanting to like it. But every time has been lackluster. I like Riverview and Toast in Minneapolis.