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January 2004 Grapeseed

Wines by the glass in “tasting” and regular portions are served in abundance here, and wines inspire the food—wine suggestions are noted under each dish.

Blue Ribbon Award Winner

You have to love a restaurant that quotes the late British wine expert Harry Waugh on the menu: "The first duty of wine is to be Red … the second is to be a Burgundy." It's most fitting for a wine bar, which is what Grapeseed, against the odds—namely, Montgomery County's arcane liquor laws—has become. Wines by the glass in "tasting" and regular portions are served in abundance here, and wines inspire the food—wine suggestions are noted under each dish. The chic amber-lit dining room is a worthy backdrop for chef Jeffrey Heineman's sophisticated Modern American cooking.

Great beginnings are crispy tilapia with citrus vinaigrette, grilled shrimp with mole sauce and roasted butternut squash, and seared foie gras on brioche French toast. A recent special of bluefin tuna three ways starred a witty "tunafish" sandwich on toast, paired with an Oregon Pinot Noir. Among main courses, earthy oxtail-mushroom ragoût takes pan-roasted filet mignon to new heights. And if it's not already, rack of lamb with eggplant moussaka, a recent special, should be a fixture on the menu. Desserts are equally inventive. Try Mexican hot chocolate with cornmeal zeppole for dipping, or a cheese plate with lush tomme de Savoie, a mild cow's-milk cheese, or Tete de Moine, a nutty part-skim cheese set off by a flight of three wines.

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