Punk rock enthusiasts may mourn the loss of Force of Habit, the record shop that inhabited the space that is now wine bar 20 Spot, but the winos in town can rejoice. The wine bar, from owners Bodhi Freedom (owner of Bacchus) and chef Anthony Paone, opened in March, and boasts a list of North American as well as French, Italian and German wines as well as local beer.
As a teetotaler I always feel a little nervous about visiting wine bars. Wine is clearly the emphasis, so it is of utmost importance, from my standpoint, that the food can stand alone and be reason enough to visit. Which it did.
Anything with preserves is the way to go, for they are homemade and add intriguing and unique flavors that compliment, as oppose to mask, the dishes. The steak tartare, for example, comes with mushroom ketchup adding a definite sweetness and the pork sandwich is paired with a apricot mustard with a kick of horseradish. Their cheese boards come with honey, seasonal jam and mustard as well, that are easily enjoyed well after the cheese is gone. Seriously, the preserves steal the show.
Decor-wise, Freedom has decked the place out with furnishings from his personal collection, giving the space a mid-century modern and industrial look. I debated whether or not to sit on one of the sleek, white vintage Eames rocking chairs by the front window. Despite encouragement from the previous guest who had sat there ("They don't rock too much," the guest said, urging me to sit there as opposed to the back table. He also pointed out that is always better to sit by the door in case I need to make an emergency escape.) I opted for the back table, which featured romantic candlelight.
The most striking feature of 20 Spot, upon my arrival, was the absence of music. The place was at full occupancy and for a while the din of the crowd was the only soundtrack. But 30 minutes into my meal, Fleetwood Mac started playing and my faith in the restaurant's ambiance was restored.
The food was tasty, the atmosphere was cozy, and at no point did I feel the need to make an emergency exit. But I couldn't help but wonder if Dave Deveraux, the owner of now-closed Force of Habit who passed away last summer, is rolling in his grave. Is there anything less punk rock than a wine bar?