Artist Tim Shockley's "American Pig" bin for this year's Coachella Music Fest
My favorite kinds of wine bars are the ones that exist to handle exactly the kind of experience I had at 3Twenty last week. The intrepid researcher that is the Cute Gardener found this relatively new place located a block away from LABART, a gallery where we were to celebrate with our artist friend Tim Shockley later in the evening, as he would unveil his design for a recycling bin amongst other international artists for this coming weekend’s Coachella Music Festival. We needed a place that would flex to our desire for a quick drink, a few bites and an approximate sense of timing.
3Twenty has only been open since June and at 6 p.m. we were the only people there for a while. Because of these two points we were showered with some extra perks as the staff seemed happy that patrons spending real dollars had chosen their place. Even though we ordered our own bottles of wine, the nice sommelier kept bringing us last bits of various grape blends as he cleaned the wine machine as not to waste the wares; a fact that was appreciated by all. They were also kind enough to inflate our table with extra chairs as impromptu guests continued to arrive as well as a child, a fact that didn’t make them wince but had them going out of the way to find special forms of carbonated beverages that she could enjoy.
Flexible, friendly and not-too-serious, we appreciated their grace in handling our band of traveling art types.
I never put too many expectations on wine bar food, as it is not the real reason I go to them. I am usually looking for some casual glasses of vino before or after dinner or some other event but at this one, we chose to sample the menu items after being intrigued by the presence of Lamb and Goat Cheese Poutine on the menu. I am a fan of poutine, which was introduced to me by a Canadian friend last year in its proper form of gravy covered French fries with cheese curds. The beauty of the dish had been how it turned into a starchy pile of nacho-type potato and fluid bliss. But this poutine was a gourmet metamorphosis and not really true to its name. A pile of skinny stiff fries with a pile of shredded, strong lamb meat and two dollops of goat cheese was hardly a poutine but tasty enough nonetheless.
The mussels were a pleasant surprise in their ultra tender flesh accentuated by the addition of ale to the mix, rather than the typical wine.
The bacon wrapped shrimp tasted only of bacon and bacon not rendered well enough.
The chickpeas were novel and interesting in their popcorn-type application but were a bit dry with the hard rosemary spears all over them. The gruyere cracker made the trio equally dry but saved a bit by the plump, hot olives.
Although the experience was fun due to the company, I won’t be clamoring to go back there again because there always seems to be another wine bar around the corner somewhere…although I still haven’t found one with food better than Chef Matt Smith’s at 3rd Corner in the desert.