Amid the newborn French and Senegalese restaurants, pet spas, indie film houses and Soho-esque boutiques, downtown Brooklyn has added another feature to its extreme makeover: an enophile's haven.
The 16-month-old Stonehome is notable for being the first wine bar in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, complementing the area's burgeoning wine stores. Tucked away on Lafayette Avenue, across the street from Moe's Bar & Lounge and Gia Restaurant, Stonehome not only serves as a hangout for the surrounding neighborhoods, but also as a stopover for Manhattanites heading to a performance at the nearby Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Stonehome's owners, 20-year Fort Greene resident Bill Stenehjem and his wife, Rose Hermann, have created a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for the aspiring wine lover who is scared to death of sommeliers and for enophiles who want to enjoy the neighborhood's bohemian vibe to the tune of mellow hip-hop and Latin music. The casual, chic indoor space offers seating at a 40-foot, cherrywood bar or colorful faux-suede banquettes, while an outside patio feels like a quaint Parisian courtyard.
Stonehome sells 140 wines by the bottle, around 30 of them by the glass, including sparkling wines, rosés, Port, Madeira and other dessert wines. The list sticks mainly to Europe and California, with a handful of Southern Hemisphere wine regions thrown in, and largely eschews the big names and status labels. Among the by-the-glass selections are Montaudon Brut Rosé Champagne Grande Rosé NV (90 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale, $12 a glass), whites such as the Tenute Sella & Mosca Vermentino di Sardegna La Cala 2002 (85 points, $7) from Italy and reds such as Viña Echeverría Cabernet Sauvignon Molina Reserva 2000 (86, $8) from Chile and Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir Edna Valley Chamisal Vineyards 2001 (88, $9) from California.
Tasting flights—3-ounce pours of three wines priced from $13 to $16—provide an introduction to, say, reds from southern France or different expressions of Riesling. Stonehome also offers a short list of imported beers from Germany, Belgium and Scotland.
Chef Stacie Lynn creates a seasonal menu of small plates and salads, including braised short ribs over polenta with roasted vegetables ($12), as well as hot pressed sandwiches, such as roasted portobello mushrooms, red bell peppers, caramelized onions and goat cheese ($8). There's also a selection of cheeses and charcuterie, plus a handful of desserts, such as red velvet cake ($5).
For wine recommendations and pairing suggestions, turn to the knowledgeable, friendly staff, who cater to a multicultural clientele: visitors with European accents, Mohawk-sporting parents pushing baby strollers, neighborhood nine-to-fivers and the local starving artists who can't pay the electric bill but simply can't pass up a good glass of Pinot.
Stonehome Wine Bar
87 Lafayette Ave. (between S. Elliot Place and S. Portland Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Telephone: (718) 624-9443
Web site: www.stonehomewinebar.com
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
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