First Bite: Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro

If you’re a grazer like me, you want to try one of everything on the menu. And guests can do just that, somewhat affordably, at Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro. Located at Patriot Place in Foxboro, just steps away from Gillette Stadium, the restaurant serves up small plates, priced at $7 to $16 each—the price of a burger at one of the nearby sports bars.

With its hardwood floors, exposed brick, wine-painted walls, and hand-scraped hickory tables, the dining room feels South End cozy. Ask for the corner booth piled with comfy silk pillows, but be warned: You’ll be tempted to nap in between all the satisfying courses.

That’s not to say service is slow. In fact, in true tapas style, plates arrive when they’re ready, so you’ll have to juggle them if you order in multiples. We began with insight from the young chef Richard Garcia, who informed us that ingredients are as locally sourced as possible, mostly from Vermont and New Hampshire. There’s even a little chalk board perched by the bar that names the exact farms where the meat and cheeses were raised or produced. The melted Vermont cheddar in the macaroni & cheese ($12) was accented by truffles sprinkled atop a smoked parmesan crust, and our beet salad ($9) boasted heaping clumps of fresh goat’s milk feta, offset by a creamy raspberry gel, horseradish, and fresh fennel.

Steamed mussels, ($10) from Bang Island, Maine, were cooked so tenderly they hardly required chewing. We fought over bread to sop up the remaining citrus tomato broth enhanced with chunks of spicy Spanish chorizo. Next came the “Hook and Line” cod ($12) with garbanzo beans, yogurt, and dill oil: a nice dish with pure, fresh flavor, though it wouldn’t have suffered for a dash more dill.

The seasonal charcuterie plate was spectacular, with a rich Serrano ham shaved ultrathin so it melted away on the tongue. Mozzarella-stuffed arancini ($12) were crisp and oozy. And the nice char on the Kobe beef in a Rioja reduction ($16) rendered a deep, satisfying umami flavor that meat lovers will worship.

This being a wine bar, you can order wine flights designed to match the courses. “A Meaty Proposition” ($13), was a gem, offering a sampling of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel. (On Tuesdays, the restaurant offers wine tastings from 6-8 p.m., which include four pours and snackings for $10, and on Wednesdays, they also offer a $35 three-course prix fixe, wine included).

Save room for dessert, especially the crème brulee with almond biscotti and fresh berries. The crispy torched surface balanced the creamy custard waiting beneath. It was exactly as crème brulee should be.

Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro, 201 Patriot Place, Foxboro, 508-203-WINE, tastingswinebarandbistro.com.

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