We'll admit it: Big Lots on Broadway has been a go-to spot for Candy Girl "treasures" in the past, so we have a fondness for that bit of real estate. But we were in for a completely different kind of treat when we were invited to taste test the Amarena cherries and Venezuelan El Rey chocolate at the Sketch wine bar, directly across from the closeout retailer.
Sketch, which opened to the public on March 20th, occupies a sparse but meticulously designed space. The menu, created to function without a kitchen is equally minimalist, with each item carefully selected by chef Sean Yontz to dazzle on its own or compliment a glass of wine. We knew there was something serious going on with their wine when we noticed a three-drink maximum imposed on the house white sangria. Turns out the drink is a lethal combination of non-traditional liquors (let's just say tequila, Limoncello, rum, vodka, and peach schnapps are only a few of the ingredients) and more than three would do you in.
The knowledgeable bartenders hooked us up with a glass of the Rutherglen, which they promised would make our cherries and chocolate sing. And after grazing over a small cheese selection, we were ready for our sweet reward. They made up a tester plate for us with four small cherries circling shards of dark chocolate, drizzled with syrup from the cherries.
Not just any run-of-the-mill fruit, these cherries are imported from Italy where they have been soaked in grappa which is then strained off, reduced to a syrup and added back to the fruit -- a process that makes these guys a pricey indulgence at a buck a pop.
Could they possibly be worth it?
A better question might be, if you drank three glasses of the sangria would you trust yourself not to demand that the staff bring the entire tin of cherries out to your table with a giant spoon and OMIGOD JUST PUT IT ON THE TAB?! Seriously, these cherries are that good.
Not at all like a maraschino cherry with a tough skin and mushy insides, the flesh of these are tender and firm, somehow containing more juice than would seem possible for such a tiny bite. The chocolate is 70 percent cocoa, which makes it very dark, hard chocolate. The two absolutely compliment each other: the bitterness of the chocolate playing with the tartness of the cherries. Oh, and the Rutherglen wine went down all the more smooth after a bite of each.
Currently, you can order a plate of chocolate for $5 or cherries for $6 or a combo for $11, although Sketch plans a happy-hour-priced platter featuring both.
The only thing missing was some way to sop up all the glorious cherry syrup that remained on the plate after we devoured the edibles. Little pound cake squares would be an inspired addition. As it was, we just eyed the plate longingly, wondering exactly how uncouth it would have been to lick it clean. Two glasses of the sangria and we might have found out.
Would we finish it? All of it and more.
Would we order it again? Oh, yes.
Rating: 5 out of 5