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Wine Thief Steals My Heart...

Okay - title post is cheesy, I admit it...but I am still a little giddy over the most recent addition to neighborhood spots in in Mt Airy that we can walk to. Located in the former Bitar's space on Germantown Ave, The Wine Thief officially opened for business last night, and we were there with what seemed like the rest of the neighborhood! The interior layout hasn't really changed much from its previous incarnation, with the exception of the removal of the awkward counter and case, replaced with a carved wood bar with plenty of seating for a smallish space. Warm colors, wood floors and subtle and simple lighting warmed the once purely utilitarian grab and go considerably. Unfortunately the liquor license is "pending" (what is it with that block of Germantown??), but the owner's offered a glass of wine or beer last night with their compliments, and plan to operate as a BYO until the all-important LCB license arrives. The menu is not huge, but varied, and the prices imminently reasonable. Sitting at the bar, we took the advice of our gracious bartender Dennis, and the two of us shared the "Thief Roll", ahi tuna rolled in black and white sesame seeds and a tempura style batter, with wasabi crema on the side - big, flavorful without overwhelming the sweet taste of the ahi, and served with a small side of seaweed salad. The P.E.I. mussels in thai curry made me weep for lack of bread to sop up the amazing broth with just the right touch of heat - only fear of embarassment in front of the neighbors kept me from grabbing a straw off the bar and slurping it directly from the bowl. Finally, the "Thief Salad" blew us both away - mixed greens with slivers of jicama, cashews, craisins and topped with a vanilla-orange vinagrette were so deliciously rich that we could have foresworn dessert...we didn't. The grand finale was a coconut rice pudding with fresh strawberries. Honestly, I was so full I couldn't really do it justice. The full tab for two people, three generous portions (and these were on the 'starter' menu) plus dessert was under $35. Yay new neighborhood place!!


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  1. As a neighbor, I'm glad to hear the good news. Have you been to NXNW yet?

    1 Reply
    1. re: hungry100

      Not since it re-opened - it had really deteriorated from its early days, but I am willing to give it another chance. They used to have a pretty good pulled pork sandwich (southern style) and fried green tomatoes that would call to me with their sweet siren song, but the kitchen went down hill over the past few years.

    2. Great news! Can't wait to try it. Another (seemingly) great place within walking distance!

      1. I went tonight for drinks and was very pleased to hear that the approach will be "affordable wine" at like $6-$7 a glass. In this day and age of the $12 glass how wonderful is that? Will visit for a full meal soon.


        1. Ok so I go last night again (just for drinks) an paid over 30 bucks for three glasses of wine (which were good). The place was sold to me before as an affordable wine bar. These prices are quite typical (a reason I don't drink as much wine out anymore). Besides the fact that their prices aren't posted yet they also didn't include the tax in price; so an extra ten percent is tacked on to the $9/glass price tag.
          I'm not saying that I got ripped off but please don't come off as an affordable alternative when you don't plan to be one. I could have gone to EB+B and at least known what I was getting into. Bottom line though is to always ask the server the price.


          3 Replies
          1. re: Chinon00

            Wow! What were you drinking? We went back on Friday night, and a full carafe of wine was $32, and three of us got 4 glasses each. It was almost too much and I though it an excellent deal. Next time try the half carafe - they seem to be around the $16-18 range and judging by the fact that our carafe was in excess of a bottle of wine, should be more than enough. EB&B is good, but they only do one thing - they do it well, but they are all about the Breads. Try the food - I think you may get over your disappointment! All I can say is I am thrilled we were walking home after our wine experience.

            1. re: doxiemom

              Thanks for the report. The menu looks interesting and worth a try. Do you know if Umbria is still open? Is it any good?

              1. re: Den

                Umbria is still open. I was there on Valentine's Day. Good food, not cheap.

          2. I forgot to ask, do you need reservations or can you just walk in?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Den

              I am not even sure if they are taking reservations, but we've been 3 times and just walked in each time. Twice we ended up sitting at the bar as we didn't want to wait for a table, but that was fine with us. The bartenders are knowledgeable and made great suggestions, so we don't mind eating at the bar and making new friends!

              1. re: doxiemom

                I like Wine Thief, just wish they'd dress their salad's a little more lightly.

            2. To those of you who've been and ordered wine, what is the wine list like? Pricing aside, is it an interesting list? Are wines served in glasses large enough for swirling & sniffing, or are they not really going for that wine aficionado thing?

              Their website gives the impression that they are very serious about wine (limited markups, "a plethora of different styles and varietals," carafe service), and I wonder whether you guys think they make good on these promises.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nwinkler

                I went tonight and really enjoyed my meal. But honestly the red wines tasted beat up. I got A LOT of leather and little fruit on the Rosso Toscana (Sangiovese?) and Tempranillo that I had. But most importantly they were served WAY too warm. I cannot complain about the price though. I had one glass, and a half carafe (3.5 glasses) for $25.
                Obviously the white wines were fine. I enjoyed a Sicilian white for $5.
                But even if all their red wines were rare and/ or remarkable they aren't being taken care of well right now.

                I like you Wine Thief. Don't let me down. Preserve your reds.


              2. I just ate here tonight. It was really, really delicious with quite generous portions. The eggplant cheesecake was very interesting--almost the consistency of a pate--and quite generous in size. We were too full for dessert, unfortunately, because what they had sounded very good! Definitely recommended!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: jayaymeye

                  We went last night and thought the food and service was wonderful. After so many mediocre restaurants in this area....finally we have a place that we could be regulars at. Oh, and the desserts were terrific. Apple cobbler and pecan pie. Homemade and so good.

                2. We just had brunch ther and I have to echo the praise of this place, it is the perfect neighborhood spot for a casual brunch. Nice atmosphere, friendly casual service. The wine list was very affordable, my husband and I had a half carafe of a red blend (the name is escaping me) and the petit syrah, spent only $25 for over 4 glasses of wine. Not a huge selection but I was happy with what we ordered (I did enjoy the reds, especially the blend). I ordered steak and eggs which came with a delicous onion relish, my hsband got a very good burger and fries. We ended with an AMAZING chocolate peanut butter bread pudding topped with chocolate ice cream, it was so big I could not finish it (which never happens with me and dessert!). We have a small baby so cannot go out much for dinners so finding great spots like this for brunch is perfect!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: AmblerGirl

                    I'm glad you told us, because there really is no place for a great brunch in the neighborhood. Just wondering, did you have reservations or just walk in? Thanks again.

                    1. re: DaisyM

                      We just walked in, ther were a few tables filled but it was not crowded. Not sure if it is always that way or an off weekend because of the holiday.

                  2. Went to Wine Thief a few weeks back with 3 companions. A nice neighborhood place, with a warm & friendly atmosphere. Service was attentive, although server had no knowledge of wine & could not give recommendations. We tried the Thief roll based upon reviews on this board (ordered 2 to share) and were left somewhat disappointed. Would rather go to a great sushi joint like Cho Cho San or Bluefin for this type of fare. The ladies all had short ribs, and each gave good feedback, although my wife remarked that she thought it was too much fate as compared to other short ribs we've had (best in the area are the shortribs @ Blackfish, but not fair to compare the two places.). Portions were huge. I had the fried chicken, which was a big letdown. Definitely not as good as I hoped, lacked spice & they used very small chickens....I like my fried chicken with less breading & more meat. The bread pudding for dessert was tasty & again a sizable portion shared by 4 of us...Now, this review is probably coming off a big negative, and I don't intend to trash the place. We loved the atmosphere & the food was decent quality. We will go back & try again & hope the kitchen adds a bit more flavor & soul to the mix.