At Clarendon’s Screwtop Wine Bar, locals have come to appreciate the friendly face of former AOL exec Wendy Buckley, who offers interesting wines alongside homespun recipes at her new restaurant/gourmet shop. Her mother-in-law’s meatloaf sandwich influenced her version ($13), which swaps buffalo for beef and is made juicy and flavorful with bacon and sun-dried tomatoes. A French onion melt ($10), with cave-aged Gruyère and caramelized onions, was another worthy handful. The other half of the four-sandwich menu was less successful: a prosciutto-and-mozzarella sandwich ($11) would have been good, but a thick smear of sun-dried-tomato paste hijacked the flavors, and chicken-and-goat-cheese panini ($11) tasted mostly of pesto.
Much of the menu is shareable. A spinach salad ($9.50) topped with bacon, candied walnuts, and blue-cheese dressing is large enough for four as an appetizer. The heart-shaped grilled-cheese sliders ($9.50) made with Gouda, Parmesan, and Brie weren’t as flavorful as that onion melt but were saved by a nice crock of creamy tomato dip.
Buckley worked at the Del Ray shop Cheesetique, and her cheese board (three selections for $16, six for $29) is laden with generous hunks chosen from categories such as “Fresh and Bright” and “Whoa Nelly” (the stinkier ones). Be careful of the straight-from-a-jar accompaniments, including onion chutney and a fig spread, which at $3.50 a pop can add up.
Wines and desserts further boost the bill, but the pecan-topped Texas sheet cake ($6.50)—another dish big enough to divide four ways—is a sweet way to finish.
Open Tuesday through Thursday for dinner, Friday and Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch and limited dinner.