Downtown Maplewood’s latest restaurant is Home Wine Kitchen. Run by the husband-and-wife team of Josh Renbarger, who manages the front of the house and the wine program, and chef Cassandra Vires, who helms the kitchen, the restaurant is a combination of a comfortable atmosphere and culinary excellence.
The interior is casual rustic, with distressed wood and several walls with chalkboard surfaces where the ever-changing wine and cheese offerings are listed. The space is warm and inviting, and definitely evokes the sense of home inherent in the eatery’s name.
The lunch and Sunday brunch menus at Home Wine Kitchen are relatively set, but Vires has instituted a rotating dinner menu that changes weekly, based on what’s in season, as well as what catches her fancy. The wine menu changes almost as frequently. so guests always have the right pairing. The wines are all $8 by the glass or $30 by the bottle, so it’s easy and affordable to try something new.
We started our visit with the Soup of the Day ($6), a beet soup with delicate slivers of orange, some watercress and goat cheese. Served warm, it was an exquisite balance of flavors. We also tried the Tomato Confit ($10), a small jar of heirloom tomatoes, herbs, honeyed goat cheese and some toasted sourdough bread, sort of a build-your-own crostini kit. The tomatoes were delicate and sweet, and all of the flavors on the plate worked together extraordinarily well.
For our entrees, we opted for the Country Fried Pork ($22) and the Braised Chicken ($20), and added Potato Confit ($8) and Radishes ($8) for our sides. The pork was tender and mild with just the right amount of breading—a far cry from the heavy banquet-line beef version we’re way too familiar with, and the mashed potatoes with sage white wine gravy served alongside were a nice complement. The chicken was served on a bed of pasta reminiscent of ramen noodles, but miles away from that dorm room staple, augmented with just a little brown butter sauce and the cooking juices from the chicken. Simple and delicious. The radishes were firm and earthy, with just a touch of anchovy in the butter they were cooked with, and topped with gorgeous slices of quail egg.
To cap things off we chose the Cheese & Biscuits with Gooseberry Jam ($7), and it proved to be a great meal-ender: Three shortbread biscuits were served with hearty dollops of goat cheese and gooseberry jam. The dish was simple and unassuming on the plate, but was a complex marriage of tastes on the tongue. The jam was a real delight, with just a bit of pepper accenting the tart berries.
All of the food was plated beautifully, as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palate, and service was friendly and efficient. Between the great space, the inventive, ambitious and delectable food, and the interesting wine offerings, Home Wine Kitchen is set to become a real gem of the St. Louis dining scene.
Home Wine Kitchen • 7322 Manchester Road • 802-7676