Slate’s Menu Elevates Wine Bar Cuisine
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, 2404 Wisconsin Ave. NW, is a cozy place where you can have a conversation with your friends and loved ones without having to shout. It is ideal to enjoy a glass of vino and grab a bite to eat in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
Corporate lawyer-turned-Level III wine specialist and French wine scholar Elizabeth Banker opened Slate in 2012. Her husband Danny Lledó took over as manager, chef and sommelier in 2013 when she went back to corporate law, first at ZwillGen in D.C. then as head counsel for global law enforcement at Twitter.
Downstairs, there’s plenty of seating at linen-cloaked tables with candles and a few stools the dark wood bar topped with Brazilian rainforest marble. Upstairs are more tables and a mini bar that seats four in a space that can be used for private parties. There are dark wood floors with slate blue and exposed white-washed brick walls. The downstairs is decorated with framed corkscrews while the upstairs features wine art.
Lledó features both Old and New World wines, emphasizing small producers with sustainable farming practices at Slate. A long list reveals a selection of wines by the glass and bottle. There are about 160 varieties on the bar’s ever-changing menu including several from Lledó’s private collection. For those willing to venture, Slate offers a sampler flight with 4-ounce pours of three sparkling wines for $20, flights of four 4-ounce pours of interesting whites or reds for $22 and flight of four 4-ounce seasonal whites or reds for $27.
For those a little less daring, Slate offers two sparkling, eight white and eight red wines by the glass. Every Wednesday is Wine Wednesday with half off all bottles and half priced flights on Sunday. For those who don’t fancy the grape, there are nine cocktails plus craft beers on draft and by the bottle.
Meanwhile, the bistro side of Slate involves a menu that goes beyond the standard selection of cheeses with a few sampler plates and snacks. Slate features a New American cuisine with influences of Lledó’s Spanish-Portuguese heritage and French influences from his father, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Lledó, who has worked as a business consultant as well as in the kitchens at José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Taberna del Alabardero and Botin. Each dish on the menu is developed so that it pairs well with wine.
At lunch, there’s a selection of starters, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees. There’s a selection of soups, salads and sandwiches, too, plus entrees to include roast chicken, steak frites, Cajun chicken and chorizo pasta and more. Dinner features appetizers such as roasted mixed olive and garlic, blistered Shishito peppers, steamed mussels or Cajun shrimp priced from $7-$14. There’s also a selection of soups and salads priced from $7-$16, and cheese and charcuterie priced from $12-$14 that includes bread, fruit jam and a choice of items. Entrées, which include vegetable paella, chicken cordon bleu, a New York strip steak and pan seared duck breast, are priced from $14-$28.
On a recent visit for dinner, my guest and I opted to take advantage of the chef’s five-course tasting menu for $55 so we could sample a wide variety of dishes. Add wine pairing for $25 more. There is also a three-course tasting menu for $35 and you can add wine pairing for $20 extra.
With the five-course menu, you get a starter of the chef’s choice, which on the night we visited was tuna poke on a crostini. That was followed by a choice of two pan seared scallops with a bacon corn cream sauce or duck breast egg rolls with hoisin soy sauce and honey mustard. The bacon corn cream sauce was a bit salty, but the scallops were perfectly cooked and tasty. The duck breast egg rolls are also a solid choice without the gamey taste often associated with duck. A palate cleanser of lemon-ginger-rosemary granite was served between courses.
The third course included a choice of asparagus risotto or fideua, a paella made with pasta, chicken and asparagus. Both were tasty. The risotto was cheesy with freshly shaved parmesan, while the fideua was full of saffron, chicken and asparagus.
Entrees include a choice of a 6-ounce bistro filet served with a mushroom peppercorn sauce, grilled asparagus and fries, or tuna steak with caramelized onions and roasted Brussels sprouts. The filet was excellent, cooked perfectly and the sauce added extra layers of flavor. The tuna was a bit on the fishy side, but the Brussels were perfect with just the right amount of crispy leaves and salt.
The dessert course is a choice off the full menu including a berry shortcake, key lime tart, house-made New York cheesecake with house-brandied peaches, tres leches cake, vanilla crème brulee, warm fudge brownie or sorbet blended with sparking cava.
One item that you shouldn’t miss, whether you are just looking for something to go with a glass of wine or an appetizer with lunch or dinner is the fried brie ($12) that comes with a fruit compote and crostini. It is a little heavier that the usual baked brie, battered before being fried. But inside, the cheese is gooey and delicious. In fact, there wasn’t enough crostini for the three big pieces of brie, but it was just as good with just the compote and no bread. This is a dish worth coming back for again and again.
If you’ve never been to Slate – or even if you have – it will host a Beauolais tasting on Nov. 19 from 5-8 p.m. for $15. While the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau debuts on Nov. 17, Lledó will lead a tasting of some older vintages that have been aged in oak barrels longer. Tasting include George Duboeuf Beaujolais “Nouveau” 2015, George Duboeuf Flower Label, Beaujolais 2014, Jean Paul Champagnon Fleurie, Beaujolais 2013 and Domaine Laurent Martray Brouilly, Beaujolais 2013. The full dinner, cocktail and wine menu will also be available.
Slate’s monthly wine tastings are done personally for each guest. The wines are explained in the intimate fashion not only to suit subjective taste profiles, but also to answer individual questions, pair with menu items and for the personalized experience.
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro is open from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Happy hour is from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and again from 10 p.m.-midnight on Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch is served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.