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Grand Cru, Cafe And Wine Store in the Courtyard Behind Vapiano's - N. Glebe Rd. and Wilson Blvd. in Ballston


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Had dinner with the wife and friends at Grandcru-Wine, which is located next to big buns and behind the Westin in Arlington. It is a store restaurant combination with an interesting concept. You can buy a bottle and enjoy it with dinner for a $5.00 corkage fee. The wine selection is interesting and all over the place. For me there seems an overall lack of direction in the collection. We found a decent Burgundy to settle on, after looking for a while. We had a few apps before dinner and had a hit with the mushroom tart and a major miss with the cheese and meat tray. It was a misdirected combination of hard cheddar, smoked Gouda, and salami, all could have been purchased at the local Safeway. By far the worst I have ever had. For dinner the wife had the white truffle orzo, which was well prepared and flavorful and well priced at $10.00. I had the duck breast with sweet mashed potato. The duck was well prepared, tender and flavorful. A simple well prepared duck breast is hard to find, they did it well. For desert we had port, which they let us sample before we purchased and the chocolate fondue, it was decent, but not great.

Overall the food was good with some major misses along the way. I think if you are careful with your selections it could be a decent experience. My hope is that they tighten up their wine selections and provide more focus.

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Had dinner with the wife and friends at Grandcru-Wine, which is located next to big buns and behind the Westin in Arlington. It is a store restaurant combination with an interesting concept. You can buy a bottle and enjoy it with dinner for a $5.00 corkage fee.

Ironbridge in Clarksville has that same concept with wine and on a slightly modified basis so does Evening Star/Planet Wine in Alexandria. I think it is a cool concept but unfortunately one which DC does not permit.

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Ironbridge in Clarksville has that same concept with wine and on a slightly modified basis so does Evening Star/Planet Wine in Alexandria. I think it is a cool concept but unfortunately one which DC does not permit.

Likewise Adega Wine Cellars in Silver Spring which no longer charges a corkage fee (and also has half-price wine on Monday evenings).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Interesting since "corkage" is mostly illegal in Virginia. Is this a restaurant selling wine at retail as a way to get around the regs? I remember that a while ago Best Cellars in Clarendon (a wine store that tried to operate also as a wine bar) ran afoul of the law and had to give up its selling of tastings to potential retail customers.

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Interesting since "corkage" is mostly illegal in Virginia. Is this a restaurant selling wine at retail as a way to get around the regs? I remember that a while ago Best Cellars in Clarendon (a wine store that tried to operate also as a wine bar) ran afoul of the law and had to give up its selling of tastings to potential retail customers.

There is a wrinkle in the Virginia law that allows you to consume a bottle that is purchased on site (a site under the same liquor license). Best Cellars got in trouble because of not selling enough food.

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You can buy a bottle and enjoy it with dinner for a $5.00 corkage fee.

I finally found a good Cuban sandwich. The Fidel ($8) isn't much bigger than a Banh Mi, but is noteworthy for what it isn't: It isn't huge, it isn't sloppy, and it isn't spread to death; everything is in balance, with the cornichons bringing it all together. Ordered to go, it came with a few greens in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Grand Cru's corkage fee is still $5 on wines over $20, but it's $7 for wines under $20. I like the selection here, and purchased a couple bottles to take home (one of which - 2005 Chateau Les Amoureuses Cotes du Rhone - I enjoyed by the glass a couple weeks ago at Le Refuge).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Had tapas here the other night with friends. Their new menu items look good, and I am glad they switched things up. We had cheese fondue (good, but boring), proscuitto figs which were good, deviled eggs which were excellent, crab cakes which I enjoyed and bison sliders, oh and a steamed artichoke. Friends wanted to go there and I thought it was good, I would go back to sample the new entrees. But we also live very close. Anyway just thought I would put it out there.

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I went for dinner about a month ago. The food is good in my opinion but not great. The wine is fine but there is something off about the atmosphere...can't put my finger on it.  

I haven't been here in a long time, but I remember the atmosphere as being a lot like Adega in Silver Spring. I also remember liking the food I had (I'm certain I had a very good Cuban Sandwich here). I think I've eaten here twice - it's just such a nuisance getting into that courtyard if you don't live here, and you just never remember exactly where it is, and you just never think to go. It's very slow for lunch, and it's a waste of an evening for dinner (I'm not saying this as a criticism even though that sounds impossible - I have Grand Cru ranked as #3 in Ballston behind Willow and Pupatella, but I don't have it in Italic).

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I went there a couple of years ago for some dinners.  It was sometimes very good and sometimes not so good.  What I didn't like at the time and maybe they have fixed it by now, but their ventilation system was non-existent so my clothes would be smelling of grease when I got home.

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I was there last week for a happy hour and was there about 6 months earlier for another HH. This time we sat inside the shop and only had wine flights - no food.  The atmosphere is kind of like a busy bar - you sit among the shelves of wine, there is a TV in one corner and it was loud and boisterous (partly due to cramming so much stuff in a smallish space). I had the flight of red which was ok - price was par for the course ($15 for 3 types of wine = approx. 1 1/2 glasses total) and the quality was ok. I thought 1 of the wines was weak (in flavor and seemed watery) but the other 2 were enjoyable - one very much so and different from South Africa. My fellow drinkers generally enjoyed their flights as we tried a few different ones - I only recall they seemed to like the pinot grigio on the italian primavera flight.  When I went before it was warmer and we sat outside for food and drinks. The patio is nice, but the services was so so, and I recall the house wines weren't great, plus the food was hit or miss.  So I wouldn't by any means seek it out as a destination but if you are nearby looking for a glass of wine, they have lots of options. If you like beer, I think you are better off around the corner at World of Beer. If you want food, head elsewhere (if it is casual dining, go next door to Big Buns for rather good burgers with lots of options in proteins or bun/salad, etc.).

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I'd written this place off years ago, but a couple of events made me try again.  One was a gal pal lunch organized by a friend who had held her wedding reception there.  The lunch was a good deal - $13 for salad or soup, entree, and raspberry sorbet.  I had the onion soup and it was very pleasant - not so salty like it is at La Madeleine.  My entree was a seafood crepe -very nice.  The sorbet was rich almost like a gelato.  The second event was a happy hour sponsored by an organization I volunteer for.  Again - pleasant sitting outside in the courtyard with acceptable\y-tasting house wines for $4 - I had the shiraz.

 

I figured it was time to check the place out for dinner again and dragged my husband Friday night.  I made better picks so I think I liked it better than he did.  We loved the mushroom strudel, onion soup, warm brie and honey, prosciutto-wrapped dates.  We liked the mussels (fresh but broth could have been more interesting).  The crab cakes and pork sliders were disappointing.  Mixed bag.

 

What I really love is the wine store associated with the restaurant.  You can buy the bottle there at retail prices and drink it for dinner (a corkage fee of $5 or $7 depending on price of wine).  We had a bordeaux that cost $25 (including corkage fee) that I had recently drank at a different French restaurant for $45.  That is a true bargain...just need to figure out how to drag my husband back again.

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