"Uncorked" wine bar opening July 1 -- West Hartford, Blue Back Sq
Looks like this could be a fun place -- love the concept. 70 wines on tap with WineStation technology, customers can self-service buy 1 oz tastes, 3 oz, or 6 oz pours using a pre-funded smart card.
"Besides its vast selection of wines, Uncorked will also offer a light food menu, consisting of items typically paired with wine, including an assortment of cheeses, chocolates, meats, salads and tapas."
About the WineStation...
This is the same model as Tastings in Mystic, which I recently went to. The difference seems to be that people will be able to personally go up and pour their own wines, but hopefully this won't be the case. At Tastings a employee takes your card and dispences from the machine for you.
Initially I didn't like this idea, I wanted to use the machine myself. But I realized that those little bottles of wine run out very quickly, and three times during our tasting one had to be replaced. This meant shutting down the machine, opening it up, and inserting a new bottle. It was nice that someone was there to take care of this instantly, instead of having to wait for someone to come over and fix the machine. Also, our server was very knowledgable about the wines and was able to make suggestions.
I went to this place earlier in the year. I think it's a fabulous concept, however the restaurant is clearly having some growth pains due to it's popularity. There was a frequent lack of QC (dirty silverware, appetizers coming out before wine!, un-updated wine selection) and for the price, the place just needed more staffing -- at least two bartenders up front and another waiter in the rear dining area behind the bar. It shouldn't take that long to bring out a bar of chocolate for dessert.
On positive notes, the menu was well thought out, and I liked the concept of pairing appetizers (cheese/meat) to the same wines being offered by the glass / taste. Also, getting the different tastes allows you to explore quite a number of wines in one sitting. The entrees were very good and showed the necessary sophistication for the price tag.
I'm not a chocolate fanatic by any means so can't really understand the wine/chocolate pairing idea for dessert. However, the place would definitely benefit by having a pastry chef onsite, or at least source pastries from a local establishment. Also, espresso to go along with those pastries instead of just french press coffee!
It is late Saturday afternoon and my wife and I need to make a decision for dinner. Do we grab a hamburger for dinner at the Counter Top or go to an upscale restaurant for a real dinner? Choosing the Uncorked Restaurant and Wine Bistro was a serious mistake in judgment. I tried to call several times at the phone number on their website and was told the number was disconnected so we went to Blue Back Square thinking that if the Uncorked was no longer in business than the hamburger place was just across the street.
We were seated almost immediately upon our arrival at about 6:30 PM. I immediately ordered hot coffee to warm up since the place was very chilly. The coffee was so bitter I needed to add cream, something I rarely do, just to make it edible. When I complained about the heat Katie, our server, informed me that it was operated by computer so there could be no adjustment. I inquired about the $12 lump crab cake appetizer and Katie assured me that it was very lumpy and not just small pieces. I ordered the appetizer and a filet specifically requesting that it be red and not bloody.
After 35 minutes of waiting the crab cakes appeared. During this time two parties that arrived after us were already paying their bills after having wine and appetizers, which seemed to be what most patrons were ordering. The two crab cakes, each the size of a silver dollar, finally came and my request for some lemon wedges was never accommodated. The appetizer was small but tasty and was devoid of any lump crab.
Our entrée finally arrived, after one hour of waiting, and my filet was tough, chewy and barely pink. When I complained to Katie she just ignored my complaint and left the table. The filet was small but I could not eat but half my portion since it tasted so bad. When Katie returned with the bill she informed me that she has afforded me a 15% discount since I didn’t like the steak.
This was the first dining experience we have had at this restaurant and it will probably be the last. After leaving the establishment I can to the realization that having the hamburger would have been the better choice after all.
The moral of my experience is that if you go to a wine place stick to the wine. Unfortunately, neither my wife or I drink alcohol.
Blue Back Cafe
51 Isham Rd, West Hartford, CT 06107
My experience falls somewhat between unagi's and dmshack. The room is gorgeous- comtemp, but kind of cozy. Wines were very good, but you pay top dollar- not many bargains on the list. Service was fair at best (slow) and we also were missing items of tableware- odd since we were the only seated persons (Sunday 6 PM early summer) even though Blue Back was busy. I have to say the items we ordered were above average, but we left hungry- portions were quite undersized. I might return, though with several good value plays in WH Center I'd think twice.
Blue Back Cafe
51 Isham Rd, West Hartford, CT 06107