Opinions on Vin Room (CGY)
i liked it a lot when I visited. We had great service, and I really like the room(s). sophisticated, but also cozy and warm. The wines were excellent. They have so many by the glass it's dizzying. We sampled quite a bit of food, and I remember liking most of it -- the eggplant chips are definitely finding their way through my wine-hampered memory, but I'm afraid the rest is a bit of a blur. i say go :)
Great wine list by the glass. They have a system that the bottles pour a consistent amount, keeps the wine from oxidizing, correct temperature and a wide selection. Upstairs is funky. A year ago I went there for lunch and walked away hungry. Perhaps this has changed. Portion sizes were on the light side.
I went around the time they first opened and was initially disappointed. I have since gone back to give it a couple more tries and had awful experiences each time. Not worth it!
In the beginning, I wanted to compare Vin Room to some of the other new bar/lounges around town and was intrigued at the new "wine bar" development in Calgary after seeing successes in other cities. Vin has pretty dim lighting, not romantic, just dim -- along the lines of Raw Bar in Hotel Arts or Charcut along 9th. The bar itself is very clean, but beyond that the decor is a kind of cheap "boudoir" style. This is just my opinion as some people may have liked the style, but I did not find it cozy at all -- the leather booths I sat in were stiff and uncomfortable, so much so that when I first went, I switched with my dining partner and was met instead with a stiff, uncomfortable car-fabric-upholstery chair. Oh well.
I've tried other tables since and have written it off as part of the "Euro Modern Ugly" trend of uncomfortable, flashy seating. I'm not usually a stickler for decor. I am okay paying extra wine markup on mediocre, cheap wine in great, comfortable lounge spaces or paying extra markup for great wine in uncomfortable, ill-designed places -- but paying a lot of money for bad wine AND uncomfortable decor is not a deal!!!! I wish Vin Room was a little something-different, but after enough poor experiences there, I would not go back and would not recommend.
As for the food -- decent every time, but not outstanding. I would want to try the rest of the menu had it not been for everything else. The eggplant chips are a great idea, shephard's pie was savory and tasty, and though charcuterie selection and prices could be a lot better, the horseradish mustard was very good.
But the wine... the wine director here has ruined it for me! The first time I went, we took suggestions from the sommelier and she gave us some **REALLY OFF** wine. Luckily we only ordered the tasters (2oz = $5) but it was so bad we each ended up just getting glasses of "safe" cheap wine. My partner and I each ordered a glass of cab, which we thought was a good idea but was just mediocre. My partner ordered one last glass (shiraz) in hopes of some possibility of a good wine experience, but no. The shiraz was cheap and tasted very stale. In total, the entire liquid expense (3 glasses, 2 tasters) was over $65. Expensive, and not a good experience.
The second time I went was after dinner with a friend. They were out of a wine I wanted, so after some reluctance I took another suggestion from the sommelier AGAIN and it was very bad. She seemed upset I did not like her suggestion, and again I ended up ordering a "safe" mediocre wine, which I have had before at Una Pizza for half the price. I didn't think it was out of line to ask for a different glass, but it seemed very unprofessional that the sommelier acted the way she did. Even my friend remarked how service to our table changed after I asked for a different wine.
After that experience, I did not want to go back but a few months later my boss chose Vin Room for a meeting. We met with some American clients, one of whom is a wine buyer, and they were very disappointed with the two bottle suggestions from sommelier. The wine buyer remarked that the menu had a lot of interesting or reputable brands but seemed to choose "bad years" where the wine from this brand was cheapest. That is out of my range of wine understanding, but it was pretty obvious how the servers had to push wine sales with our table of businessmen, and it made for an obnoxious experience.
It's too bad because Calgary could really use a great tiny wine bar. However, each time I visited, the sommelier / wine ruined my experience instead of enhancing it.
I would recommend someplace like Alloy (where there is a great wine selection but is more upscale) or Milk Tiger (smaller menu but great prices and value) ANYDAY over Vin Room.
Milk Tiger Lounge
1410 4 St SW, Calgary, AB T2R, CA
220 42 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1Y4, CA
Tried Vin Room for the first time last night. The review is mixed. Not the greatest service or ambiance but the food was fine, but not stellar. The wine was ok too.
The seating has a lot of two seaters that sit beside each other, which I hate. It's hard sitting with your neck turned the whole time. We asked to move but the only seat was right beside the door so we stayed put at a booth near the kitchen, where all we heard was personal chatter between chefs & wait staff; 'what are you doing this weekend', 'how was so&so's party', blah, blah, blah.
We were really confused about who our server actually was, one person served me wine, a second served my friend and then a third came by to ask how our wine was. We continually had to flag someone down to order anything, only to be told 'I'll get your waitress", after awhile we finally determined who that was (#2) but she rarely checked in on us without being asked.
The food was fine. We started with two cheeses and a balsamic/bread plate. The bread was really nice but they only cut the slices of the loaf 1/3 way through so it was tough to tactfully pull off a slice without grabbing the whole thing and half squashing it. We followed with an order mussels served with a nice leek/ wine broth. They were delicious, perfectly steamed, served with more of this partially cut bread loaf, just sitting on top of pile of mussels. We had a very nice beet salad with quinoa and a minty yogurt dressing. Our third tapas plate was hush puppies, which were boring, small, oily and generally uninteresting; we didn't eat them all.
Dessert was a major dissapointment. They had run out of the item we wanted, so we chose the "Almond Cake with berry compote and chantilly cream". This was in no way, shape or form a "Cake". It was like cookie dough pressed into mini-muffin tins, cooked crunchy, served with the compote inside the middle, topped with cream. I would call this more of a cookie or tart. Neither of us tasted almond.
We each sampled 3 wines, me white and my friend red. Of the 3, we only like 2. But it was nice to try small samples and the waitress did know the wines, and seem to describe them well. So no real complaints on the wine.
So overall, food and wine thumbs up; service and ambiance thumbs down. I'm not sure that I'll make it back any time soon. Their are too many other places to try first!
2310-4th St SW, Calgary, AB T2S 1X2, CA