Monday, November 1, 2010
It seems this Biba post gets a good number of hits, so I thought I'd update it now that I've actually gotten to patronize this new establishment. My brother-in-law, Philippe is French, lived in France his whole life until he married my sister and they moved to New York City (Tribeca). He knows and likes wine, so while they were here this weekend, I suggested we go for an after hours drink at Biba (His treat)!
They really liked the vibe of the space. Biba is small and sparse, very understated chic, totally Lauren and Philippe's style. Our server, Sean, was helpful and knowledgeable. My sister asked for a good seasonal wine that felt like a crisp fall evening. Sean suggested Marcillac "Lo Sang Del Paris, Domaine Du Cros 09 (Southwest France). $8.5
Based on his description, I chose this wine too. Lauren was happy, but I felt it was too light for a fall wine, not enough mix of flavors, I was looking for a few more tannins.
Philippe wanted a wine that complimented the Roasted Beets w/ Feta, Honey and Almonds. He choose the Pinot Noir Banshee 08 (Santa Lucia Highlands, CA) $9
Sean concurred this was an excellent choice. I would have preferred this wine cause it was extra fruity without being at all a sweet wine.
We also ordered the Warm Tuscan White Bean and Chive Spread which was a very creamy, savory yellow toned spread, comes with a light brown toasted skin on the top that tasted like cheese, but the spread is cheeseless. Both tapas were priced at $4, the size was perfect as a little nosh to accompany the wine.
As a side note, Philippe was in Philly designing lights and sound for a small French Dance Company - Cie Herve-Gil, performing Fleur De Cimetiere et autres sornettes. The piece was performed by dancers who are now between the ages of 50-65, they were lovely and limber. The narration consisted of humorous observations on what a bitch is is to get old.
Okay, this entire post sounds so pretentious! I have to laugh out loud reading it! But every word I've written is true. This is what we really did, it's what we really like and yet it all sounds so ridiculously posh. My sister can be particular, but you're just as likely to find us lathering butter and syrup on pancakes at IHop more often than imbibing at wine bars. In fact, earlier that day we were going to Max Brenner for hot chocolate; we were also hungry, but too cheap to order a meal at Max Brenner, so we went to McDonald's and ordered off the $1 menu before heading for our chocolate beverages.
Any way, below is the original post. Biba actually opened on October 8th, without a press party.
The Philly restaurant scene is buzzing around the opening of Restaurateur, Jon Myerow's new Wine Bar Biba (3131 Walnut Street). The exact date of the opening has yet to be determined, the press release announcing late August. Well, it can't get much later in August and Tinsel & Tine has yet to receive our invitation. Perhaps as in Sleeping Beauty it was mistakenly misplaced under the rug. Or a contemporary update of that scenario would be I'd better check my spam folder.
Myerow describes Biba as “Tria’s fun little cousin”. I've frequented the Tria at 12th & Spruce, (there's also one at 18th and Sansom), it has terrific salads and sandwiches, an original little snack menu, and a lovely wine menu; but it's actually a beer taster's heaven!!! With offerings that change daily. Given the means, I could become a beer connoisseur. It's so joyful tasting brews from around the world, delighting in the colors and hues, yeasts, consistencies, detecting lemon grass, clove, chocolate and countless other spices and nectars...
So, the idea of Biba will be the reverse of Tria. Biba will offer hand-picked artisanal beers, but specialize in a diverse variety of fine wines. It's 32-seat bar and 12-seat outdoor patio will feature 26 wines by the glass and an affordable menu of light fare, including cheese, charcuterie and chocolate.
I contacted Jon Myerow and asked if he'd give me a little something apart from the press release to reveal to my readers, and he graciously responded promptly:
T&T: Why University City? Not that Center City dwellers don't venture to West Philly, and people other than students live there; but that would be the majority of foot traffic. The venue seems rather upscale for college kids.
JM: We think University City is a great neighborhood for a wine bar. There are many graduate students, professors, hospital staff and visitors to the many area cultural attractions.
T&T: Do you personally do all the tasting in choosing the wines and beers? Or do you have a sommelier that brings you his/her suggestions and you make the final choice?
JM: My partner, Michael McCaulley, who is a Sommelier, chooses the wines, I choose the beers and our Fromager, Jenny Harris, chooses the cheeses. Michael spits, but I don't. (You need to swallow beer to perceive its bitterness, whereas you can taste wine just fine without swallowing. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.)