It’s been quite some time since I last posted anything about Vine Restaurant & Bar in San Clemente. Depending on your mood, you may choose to sit in the casual bar area, or, the secluded, more “formal” dining room. On this occasion, we are seated at the bar where we are able to watch everything in motion — mixologists crafting the cocktails, chefs creating dishes in the kitchen. This is where I like to sit, in the midst of it all.
We begin with some signature craft cocktails (all $11). One and Done — vanilla bean infused bourbon, cynar, drambuie, sweet vermouth; Polyester Caballero — tequila, aperol, basil, lime and lavender simple syrup; Kentucky Yellow Fever — bourbon, lillet blanc, grand marnier and drambuie.
I’m a huge fan of wings — any kind of wings — and Crispy Meyer Lemon and Honey Duck Wings ($13) are exceptional. This is not my first time having them. These fall-off-the-bone wings are sticky with a citrusy honey chile marinade. A touch of the fork and the meat gives way — yes it is THAT tender. I take a little of the greens sitting in the sauce and eat the duck with it. Simply divine.
House-made English Pea & Garlic Confit Ravioli ($12) is surprising generous for a starter. The pistachio brown butter with a hint of white truffle oil is unctuous. Crispy sage from the restaurant’s garden in the back provides crunch and aroma. I suggest sharing because this dish alone will suffice as a meal on its own.
One of my favorite dishes of the evening is Manila Clams & Rock Shrimp with Saffron Pearl Couscous ($15). This is yet another example of the incredible value you get at Vine. A large bowl of beautiful clams swim in a bowl of charred tomato broth with Spanish chorizo, oregano and roasted garlic. The Israeli couscous has soaked up all the flavorful broth and I am not able to stop eating. If I am to pick one appetizer from this menu, these clams are it! To-die-for!
If you are a fan of burgers, there are two to choose from. I prefer the Mexicali Burger ($15) over the American Kobe Wine Country Burger ($15) because I am a huge fan of spicy food. Both burgers uses American kobe beef, but the toppings are different. I love the queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, chile de arbol creme, sweet onion and roasted spicy Serrano chiles on the Mexicali.
However, my favorite entree item at Vine is Pork Schnitzel ($21) with herb spaetzel. It stays on the menu all year round, but with different sides depending on season. Right now, it is paired with wild mushrooms in a preserved lemon and caper butter sauce. It is the best schnitzel you will ever eat.
Vine Restaurant & Bar
211 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672