I had never heard about Vine Restaurant & Bar until I was invited to check them out last week. Under new ownership by a trio who’s culinary resume includes Fleming’s and Charlie Palmer’s, Vine is an impeccable cozy spot worthy of the drive down to San Clemente for.
Executive chef and partner Jared Cook’s menu comes from a place dear to his heart — the garden he has planted behind the restaurant where he reaps and sows the incredibly fresh produce he utilizes in his dishes. He is also the one thing that has withstood the changes (he was sous chef under the previous owner) which helps cement that loyal fan base the restaurant has enjoyed through the years.
We started with a charcuterie board comprised of Domestic Cured Meats ($10/$18) and Domestic Cheeses ($10/18) to whet our palates and senses. The array of colors can only be described as an artful palette in which we prepare our tastebuds for the tasty journey ahead. Various salumi are flanked by cornichons and goodies such as olives and ripe, tantalizing cheeses making a perfect accompaniment for your drink of choice.
I should have been mindful while enjoying the cheese and meats, but of course, between sipping on the cocktails and chatting to my friends, I lost track of what I ate, so when we moved onto the actual dinner portion of our meal, I was already feeling the consequences of the gorgeous nibbles I had ravished upon.
House Made Pumpkin Ravioli ($13) are so light and pillowy and even after a few minutes of photography, they were still really tender. I’m usually not a ravioli fan because I’m very critical of the pasta, but these were of a perfect thickness to hold the pumpkin within, yet thin enough not to be doughy and obstructive on the palate. The white truffle brown butter was subtle, allowing the ravioli to shine. Crispy sage and pecorino cheese added piquancy and a touch more salt to the end product, while toasted pumpkin seeds, a textural crunch.
I’m a huge fan of duck wings and when Crispy Meyer Lemon & Honey Duck Wings ($14) hit the table, there was no happier person than I ready to dig into them. Meaty “duck drumettes” — if you can call them that — are coated with a sweet, tart, spicy marinade which left me puckering my lips for more. I could have polished off that entire bowl, but it was just as well there were others I had to share them with.
Entrees arrived next and American Kobe Wine Country Burger ($13) was huge, requiring a steak knife to hold it together. The pattie is juicy possessing a nice smokiness, and together with caramelized shallots, Mahon cheese, marinated tomato and pickled onions, make for an absolutely stellar burger between a soft brioche bun.
The burger was served with House Made Herb Fries ($4) and some bowls of these crispy delights were set down for the rest of the table to share.
Pan Roasted Loup De Mer ($27) consists of a well-seasoned butterflied fillet of Mediterranean seabass served with fingerling potatoes, Riesling raisin, cauliflower, baby endive and pistachio brown butter. The fish is moist and the accoutrements married well together.
However, the piece de resistence of the evening was Pork Schnitzel With Wild Mushrooms ($23) a generous pork cutlet, breaded and fried to absolute perfection. Honestly, I didn’t need any of the delightful butternut spaetzle or the hearty winter vegetables, but they were delicious and a thoughtful pairing for the schnitzel. Grainy mustard and cider gravy were ideal accompaniments should you choose to utilize them, but the schnitzel was definitely the shining star on that plate.
I liked how each dish was put together in a very thoughtful manner, where the star of the dish is never overshadowed by its supporting acts. Each element comes together in a cohesive manner whereby the flavors are an enhancement of the other. Very nicely played! This is definitely a restaurant to watch out for in 2014!
This week I have a $50 gift certificate to give away courtesy of Vine Restaurant & Bar. Please leave a comment with your FULL name telling me why you would like to visit the restaurant and whether you’ve had previous experience with Vine in the past. You have until Sunday, 26th to enter. Good Luck!
Vine Restaurant & Bar
211 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
Grace Lee says
Hello, I’ve never been here before, but Valentine’s day is coming up and I’d love to take my daughter and husband 🙂
Pam Weingarten says
4 years ago, I went on a business trip to Germany and had the most incredible schnitzel and spaetzel, and since then, have not found anything in So Cal to rival it. After reading your review and seeing the dish, I am very interested to see if my palette can be once again satisfied! I’ve never been to Vine, and haven’t been to San Clemente in years… But if this place is as good as you say, I’ll make the drive!
Madeline Chu says
I’ve never been to Vine but have heard about it. I’d love to go their with my husband for Valentines Day!!
Rena Tang says
I’d love to go and try the Pork Schnitzel With Wild Mushrooms. Looks delicious.
Karen Terry says
Karen Terry here and we were to the Vine a little over a year ago. We have not been since the change of ownership and would love to go. It is my birthday today and it would be sweet to visit this month to celebrate!
Jon Tang says
I didn’t even know this place existed especially since it’s a short drive from where I work…I gotta check it out.The charcuterie, drinks and food all look yummy! I would love to try their duck wings… I grew up eating duck wings from the dim sum restaurants.
Robert zuetell says
Used to live in sc want to come back for a day and walk at the beach and have nice meal with the wife.
Jonathan Zabala says
I just love that they have a garden on site. All the dishes look thoughtful, but the one dish I would like to try the most is the ravioli. Looks so simple, but hard to master.
Michelle Lynn Terry says
I have never been to Vine Restaurant but it looks pretty amazing! I don’t get down to San Clemente very often so this would be a great reason to go and visit the area. The House Made Pumpkin Ravioli is my favorite item that you posted as I believe pumpkin should be used year round and not just for Thanksgiving.
angela kim says
Have not tried it yet but it looks delicious. Thanks for the heads up.
betsy bothell says
The one time we visited Vine, we had one of our most delicious and memorable meals ever. I’d love to try it again under the new management. Living in San Clemente, we have our fair share of Mexican restaurants to choose from, but not so much when it comes to gastroubs and the like. Please help us to enjoy Vine again!
Lauren Lim says
It’s seems like a wonderful place for a date night with my husband. I’ve never been before.
jeff clinard says
Oh man, my wife and I love the vine. It was at the vine that we had our last real date night before we had our new baby girl. The servers were always so nice, and i was so proud to see a local restaurant raising the culinary bar like the vine has. My wife and I would love to go back to the vine for another real date night.
Jeff and Jamie Clinard
Gregory J. McCann says
I have not eatan at a sit dowm restaurant since I fell on hard times back in March of last year. I’m currently parked on a couch about a mile away from the Vine restaurant. I ride my bicycle past there every day and have only been able to fanatasize about what it would be like to enjoy a meal on their little outdoor patio. I would like to take the lady there who has been kind enough to let me stay at her place the last few months for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, she is going through some rather difficult financial challenges herself. It would be a real treat if I could show my appreciation with an evening at the Vine. As for the menu, there probably isn’t anything that I would NOT try. However, especially tempting is the Pan Roasted Loup De Mer and the Pork Schnitzel with Wild Mushrooms. And no, I have never eaten there before.
Gregory John McCann
Mad Hungry Woman says
congratulations, you are the winner
Hey Anita! It was a pleasure meeting you at Seabirds yesterday. I’ve been poking around on your blog, and you really get around chica! Your reviews are great and your photos are outstanding (I knew they would be!).
San Clemente is just a stone’s throw from me, but I’ve never been to this restaurant. I love that they have their own garden! I don’t know if they have anything that I can eat, but I’m gonna check it out. Celeste 🙂
Mad Hungry Woman says
Was great meeting you as well. There isn’t much in terms of entrees at Vine you could eat, but they have a handful of salads and sides you might be able to have — as long as you tell the chef to leave the cheese out 🙂
Terri Whitt says
If the Vine’s Pork Schnitzel is as good as mine…….has to be the best in the USA. I can’t wait to try it!
Friends of mine sent me a $200 gift certificate. I was amazed as they live in Ohio and Alaska. The Vine reviews must have been amazing for them to choose this restaurant.
Will be there real soon!
Mad Hungry Woman says
Please let me know after you try it!