A Look Inside Screwtop (With Menus)

Inside Clarendon's newest wine bar. Photograph by Chris Leaman

>> See a slideshow of photos of Screwtop here 

If you don’t already know Wendy Buckley when you step in to Screwtop, her Clarendon wine bar and shop, you soon will. As you enter, an encyclopedia of wine—from Armagnac to Zinfandel—hangs sideways, each entry accompanied by Buckley’s handwritten index-card notes. One reads, “My momma’s favorite wine,” pointing to a Lodali Moscato. Another proclaims, “You’ll want to dance after a couple of glasses of this sparkler!” referring to a Torrentes/Chardonnay blend called the Striptease. Across the sleek, hardwood floor, a selection of imported meats cool in a display case, with messages declaring prosciutto di Parma as “thinly-sliced heaven,” and bresaola as “the best thing to come out of Italy since Sophia Loren.”

“I wish I could say there was an inspiration behind all the signs,” Buckley says with a faint Texas accent (she grew up outside Fort Worth). “But the truth is that I just don’t have a printer.”

Printer or not, the quaint, personal vibe is strong. For $39.99 a month, customers can sign up for Screwtop’s Wine & Cheese Club—in which members gather regularly for parties and classes—and receive two bottles of wine and their choice of chocolate, cheese, or charcuterie each month. A sign sitting on a wooden communal table reads, “Seat yourself and make new friends!” And then there’s Buckley herself, a self-confessed “wino” who quit her six-figure job as a director of programming at AOL and greets each patron with a smile when she’s not out stuffing Screwtop flyers and coupons on cars.

“I’ve always loved wine,” Buckley says. “The whole reason I decided to open up Screwtop is that when my husband I would go out to a restaurant, we might love the wine and save the cork, but we couldn’t track down the bottle.”

So if diners at Screwtop’s L-shaped bar and smattering of dining room tables want to take home the Riesling they’re sipping or the Gouda cheese they’re noshing on, they can step into the store and find it. It’s a concept that’s similar to Cheesetique in Del Ray and Cork wine bar and its nearby Cork Market in Logan Circle.

Buckley designed the two-page menu herself. The “buffaloaf,” a spin on a meatloaf sandwich, uses ground bison and is her mother’s recipe. The Texas sheet cake was popular in her hometown. And the grilled-cheese sliders? “My husband thought we should make those heart-shaped,” Buckley laughs. “Chicks really dig it.”

While the menu—a small selection of microbrews and specialty chocolates, olives, and crackers—makes the place feel like a gourmet boutique, Screwtop’s main focus is on its regularly rotating selection of small-label wines—and, as Buckley emphasizes, a sense of community.

“Food is such instant gratification,” she says. “But wine makes people so happy.” And if we can get them under one roof, all the better.

Screwtop, 1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington; 703-888-0845; Open Tuesday through Thursday 11 to 10, Friday and Saturday 11 to 11 (brunch 11 to 3), Sunday 11 to 6.

Below, you’ll find Screwtop’s menu:

Cheese Plates
(Each served with a baguette, raisin/nut bread, and crackers)

Choose any three meats or cheeses $16
Choose any six meats or cheeses $29
Choose any additional meat or cheese $4

Cheeses (the menu changes, but these are some recent selections)
Drunken Goat, Spain
Silver Goat chèvre, New Jersey
Belletoile, France
Perla Grigia, Italy
Quickes cheddar, England
Taleggio, Italy
Rustico red pepper, Italy
Wasabi Gouda, Netherlands

Molinari Salami
Mini Finocchiona
Pâté de Campagne
Mousse Royal au Sauternes
Pâte de Canard à l’Orange

Plates for Sharing and Pairing
Cheddar/bacon bruschetta
Little toasts rubbed with garlic and topped with a secret blend of cheddars and bacon. $9.50

I Heart Grilled-Cheese Sliders
Gouda, Belletoile, with just a sprinkling of Parmesan. $9.50

A Perfect Date Night
Dates wrapped with bacon and stuffed with Stilton and served with a balsamic glaze. $9

Baked Camembert
Warm and comforting—topped with fig spread and candied walnuts. $13.50

Still Starvin’?
(All sandwiches come with chips or a side salad)

Cup o’ Soup
Hearty tomato bisque. $3.50

Spinach Salad
Baby spinach, applewood bacon, roasted red onions, and candied walnuts with blue-cheese dressing. $9.50

French Onion Melt
Melted cave-aged Gruyère over caramelized onions on sourdough. $10

Sophia’s Serenade
Prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, sundried-tomato pesto, and greens on ciabatta. $11

Toked Goat
Roasted chicken breast, Cypress Grove Purple Haze chèvre, pesto, red-onion marmalade on French bread. $11

Meatloaf sandwich with leaner and sweeter ground bison, crispy bacon crumbles, sun-dried tomatoes, and melted cheddar on ciabatta with chipotle aïoli. $13

For the Little Ones
PB & strawberry jellywich $5
Cheddar toasted cheesewich $5
Warm Virginia-ham-and-cheesewich $5

Sweets for the Sweet
Boccato gelato
Mexican vanilla, peanut butter, and non-dairy pomegranate sorbet. $4.50

Texas Sheet Cake
Dark chocolate loaded with cocoa and topped with sweet pecan/fudge frosting. $6.50

Mamma’s Toffee or Brittles
Half pound to go. $6

Weekend Brunch
Java Shack French-roast coffee, Harney & Sons hot tea, or orange juice. $3.50

Mimosas three ways (your choice of either orange, grapefruit, or pomegranate). $7.50

Baked French toast with maple syrup and bacon. $10.50

Clarendon quiche (made with Virginia ham, Gruyère, and caramelized onions and served with fresh greens tossed in your choice of dressing). $11

Cobb salad (roasted chicken breast atop romaine with grape tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, egg and bacon crumbles, and Champagne vinaigrette). $11.50

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