Cafe Society

Grape Expectations

For chef Matt Franklin, the Wine Experience Café concept was a perfect fit. It’s a wine shop with a restaurant attached. (Or, in my world, a restaurant with a wine shop next door.) All of the bottles and glasses served in the restaurant are available for sale in the shop; most of the bottles in the shop can be cracked and poured in the dining room. All of the cuisine (and there’s a lot of cuisine here, an almost incalculable amount) is keyed to the wines; is designed by Franklin, with his weird, six-way sense for ingredient combinations, to complement the bottles or be shocked against a certain pairing. He does wine dinners; he does tastings. He does the whole chef-plus-wine-guy shtick. And so the Café would seem to have everything going for it…

And yet, the first time I stopped in, the place was empty.

That worried me, because in this part of town -- Southlands, where there still seems to be money to spare -- a place like Wine Experience should be jumping. Fortunately, it was packed the second time I visited for this week's review, and no doubt will continue to be for some time.

And there's more wine news around Colorado -- from the Blending Cellar in Boulder to Brix in Cherry Creek. And finally, with wine on the brain, I spent Friday afternoon relaxing on the patio of Cork House, and returned, somewhat sodden, but with a fine look at what’s become of the former Tante Louise since Corky Douglass left the building. -- Jason Sheehan