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.
A teetotaler can find it hard to find something to latch onto in wine bars. Wine is clearly the emphasis, so it is of utmost importance 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 the dishes, as opposed to masking their flavor. The steak tartare, for example, comes with mushroom ketchup, adding a definite sweetness and the pork sandwich is paired with apricot mustard with a kick of horseradish. Their cheese boards come with honey, seasonal jam, and mustard that are enjoyable 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. We 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 us to sit there as opposed to the back table. He also pointed out that it's always better to sit by the door in case we need to make an emergency escape. Oh, the Mission.) We opted for the back table, which featured romantic candlelight.
The most striking feature of 20 Spot, upon our 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 the meal, Fleetwood Mac started playing and our faith in the restaurant's ambience was restored.
The food was tasty, the atmosphere was cozy, and at no point did we feel the need to make an emergency exit. But we 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?