The Curious Grape Reopens in Shirlington

by ARLnow.com March 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm 6,653 18 Comments

The Curious Grape has reopened as a wine store and restaurant in Shirlington.

The wine shop traded its former location at 4056 Campbell Avenue — now a Cheesetique wine and cheese store — for a much bigger location a couple of blocks away, at 2900 S. Quincy Street (next to the Energy Club). The larger, sunnier space has allowed owners Suzanne McGrath and Katie Park to to reinvent their store as “The Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop,” complete with a sit-down restaurant, coffee and wine bar, and fresh, house-made pastry selection. As before, The Curious Grape also sells wine, beer, cheese and other gourmet items retail.

The Curious Grape restaurant — which quietly started serving diners last night — is helmed by executive chef Eric McKamey, whose resume includes PassionFish in Reston, 2941 in Falls Chuch, and Central, CityZen and Proof in D.C. McKamey’s menu offers “an eclectic selection of seasonal starters, small plates and entrées,” with ingredients “sourced from the Mid-Atlantic region whenever possible.” A press release listed some menu specifics.

Standouts include the Crimini Mushroom Soup with toasted sunflower seeds and preserved mushrooms; Lightly Cured Hamachi with pomegranate, cumin, and preserved lemon; Lamb Empanadas with pumpkin seed salsa and crème fraiche; Sweet Potato Gnocchi with thyme, Taleggio cheese and black truffle; Pan Roasted Sea Scallops with black rice, bok choy and a plum wine sauce; Pene Pasta with a Vietnamese-spiced beef and lamb Bolognese, as well as Coffee and Cacao-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with potato-fennel gratin, wilted spinach and Malbec bordelaise. A unique menu layout directs guests to wine pairings for each dish, and also encourages customers to “drink what they love”. Prices range from $7 to $8 for starters, from $13 to $17 for appetizers, and from $19 and $25 entrées.

In its 5,200 square foot space, The Curious Grape has a 10-seat wine bar, a 55-seat main dining room and a 40-seat private event space. The coffee and pastry “cafe” is open starting at 7:30 a.m. daily. For bar and restaurant patrons, the eatery offers a seasonal selection of beers on tap and by the bottle. Additional hours and reservation information are available on the store’s website.

  • CrystalMikey

    Great news…nice to see a local business being able to reopen!

  • 1RLI

    They were always a good source for South African wines. Better even than Total Wine. I hope they don’t trade shelf space for dining.

    • OldTimer

      Agreed. From the pics, it appears they have ample space for a great selection of wines. Cannot wait to shop (and now eat) there again.

  • Shirlington

    Very glad to have them back. I hope they have the same tasting policy that they did in the old store.

  • SteveP

    “Prices range from $7 to $8 for starters, from $13 to $17 for appetizers”

    What’s the difference between a starter and and appetizer, aside from the price?

    • geezer

      Are you FREDTERP?

    • j

      you start with the starter

      • SteveP

        Nope, I’m not FREDTERP, and it was a sincere question.

        While I make home cooked meals most days, I dine out often enough that I don’t think the answer to this is obvious.

        Usually something prior to the main course is called an appetizer. Some places like to say “starter”. The Curious Grape says it has both. Am I to assume that they think that I’ll order a starter, and appetizer, and then a main course? My thinking is no, so I’m wondering what the expectation is. I’d guess size from the prices, but maybe not. I’m not personally a fan of appetizers big enough to be a meal like at many local bars, but perhaps that’s what this is.

    • drax

      A starter is an appetizer. An appetizer is a meal for people who want to pretend they’re only eating an appetizer.

  • Grandstander

    I hope you can buy a bottle at the store and take it over to a table for dinner. Also that’s a pretty nice bottled Belgian beer selection. I’ll definitely grab some of those Dupont Saisons for those warm summer days!

  • Alex

    Congrats, Curious Grape! Glad to see you back.

  • nom de guerre

    Farm raised, panko crusted sous vide scrod with steamed haricot verts in a dill creme fraiche reduction, topped with toasted pine nuts and organic roasted garlic. As you can see, I can also come up with pretentious entree names. Anybody else have any suggestions for their favorite?

    • drax

      Locally-sourced free range Norwegian Field Hen cutlets pan-fried with a pomegranate and balsamic vinegar salsa on a bed of sunchoke frites and bacon-infused risotto souffle.

      • drax

        Followed by a sesame-encrusted baked Alaska with cassia and tamarind spiced muskmelon gelato, Polynesian Pili Nut-flour cake and quail egg meringue.

    • Gordan Ramsay

      Ballston smoked squab brined in a tamari infused red sea salt mixture, accompanied by sustainable Belgian endive sautéed in pork belly fat and topped by organic micro greens, surrounded by a sherry, shallot and mustard vinaigrette, along with a porcini mushroom and blood orange risotto topped with aged gorgonzola cheese.

      • drax


      • drax

        Big Mac:

        Finely chopped Kobe beef rounds topped with mustard green suspension, distressed endive, gorgonazola aioli, pickled taro root, organic scallion sprouts on a tahini and wheatberry pannini roll.

        • nom de guerre

          Would that be hand-fed Wagyu Kobe beef? I think a topping of julienne daikon radish with a chiffonade of wakame seaweed would provide for a marriage of flavors for this Big Mac.


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