Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beans and Vines: Big flavors in a small space!

By Benjamin Ramos Rosado,

The old saying, “Good things come in small packages” teaches us that size doesn't always indicate quality and that something small can be of far better quality than something larger.  Beans and Vines is the perfect example of this sage proverb.  It’s a small restaurant you could walk by without noticing, but once you enter the food and service will make you happy you did!

Located in Inwood, Beans and Vines is a café/wine bar/restaurant with an eclectic menu of international cuisine and an impressive selection of South American and European wines.  The décor features an exposed brick wall on the left, 8 small wooden tables and chairs, two comfy armchairs, and a small coffee bar in the back.  With a relaxed and social ambiance, Beans and Vines is perfect for having a cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend.

Claudio-a young Argentinean Computer Programming student-was our incredible server for the night. He bounced between our tables like a pinball!  He served coffee; recommended wines; asked everyone what people thought of their orders; and answered every question without skipping a beat.  His recommendations made my visit a great experience.  Throughout the night, as patrons left they thanked him for his service and hospitality.

As I looked over my menus, I was impressed with the lunch/dinner menu’s diversity.  It was divided into 7 sections: Sandwiches, Salads, Panini, Tapas, Entrees, Sides and Dessert. 

The Sandwiches section features: Balsamic Chicken and Avocado; Grilled Portobello and Goat Cheese; and Moroccan Chicken. The Paninis are made on French baguettes or Ciabatta and include: Grilled Chicken and Avocado, Black Forest Ham, and Gourmet Chimi (Ground Sirloin or Chicken Breast, Topped with Tomato Slices, Shredded Cabbage, Onions, Chipotle Sauce, French Mustard, and Ketchup. Served with Your Choice of Seasoned Fried Potatoes or Yuca Fries). 

The Salads are simple: Southwestern grilled chicken Cesar, Baby greens with Goat cheese, and Tuna, Cranberry, and Fuji Apple on Mesuclin greens.  The Tapas section includes Assorted Cheeses and Fruits, Roasted Eggplant Tapenade, and Grilled Shrimp Tostada.

The entrées are really amazing; you can choose from Grilled Chicken Breast over Eggplant Puree (served with yucca fries and a house salad); Broiled Salmon in Lemon-Scampi Sauce (served with a house salad and mixed vegetables); Shrimp Scampi (served with a house salad and mixed vegetables); and 16-ounce Sirloin Steak (served with a house salad and Asparagus).

I asked Claudio what he recommended and he suggested the Grilled Shrimp Tostada. He said it was a popular appetizer and explained its preparation and seasoning.  It was obvious; he knew the ins and outs of the kitchen.  He assured me that I would love the dish, so I ordered it and continued to look over the menus.

Within minutes, my appetizer arrived!  The shrimp was grilled perfectly and the dry rub on it had a delightful piquant flavor.  The tostada was topped with avocado, corn, and drizzled with fresh lime, ciltrano and a chipotle cream.  The vegetables were crisp and refreshing, yet had a spicy kick to them as well.  The appetizer came with an excellent mixed green side salad dressed with balsamic vinegar.  The portions were generous; you could easily mistake this appetizer for an entrée.

After I was done, Claudio came over and asked me what I thought of the tostada.  We had a nice chat about the dish and then he asked for my dinner order.  I ordered the Shrimp Scampi with a side order of roasted potatoes.  Beans and Vines side selections include: Roasted Potatoes, Yucca Fries and Seasonal vegetables. 

I decided to be adventurous and asked Claudio what wine would go well with the Scampi.  Being a wine novice, I paid close attention to his recommendations, which included: Chardonnay – Desio (Italy/Sicily), Chardonnay – Widow’s Walk (USA/North Fork, Long Island), and Gavi – Sacco (Italy/Piedmonte).  Claudio explained why these three would pair well my Scampi and gave his opinion of each one.  It was very informative and interesting; I chose the Chardonnay-Desio. For a complete wine list go to:

The Shrimp Scampi was excellent!  The garlic butter, salt and white wine (typical scampi seasonings) complimented the sweetness of the shrimp. The mixed vegetables-green beans, zucchini, green and red peppers covered in oil and seasoning- were crunchy and savory.  The roasted potatoes, prepared with oil olive, salt and a sweet Spanish paprika, were delicious.  The Chardonnay-Desio was excellent! Claudio was right! It had a nice dry taste with a slight fruitiness that paired well with the shrimp.

After a hearty appetizer and entrée, I had no room for dessert. Beans and Vines’ dessert menu is simple and features: Pecan Pie, Chocolate cake and their special homemade flan. 

When I told Claudio I wasn’t having dessert, he recommended the homemade flan and a few coffee options that went well with it for my next visit.  I couldn’t believe it: he was making sure I’d enjoy my next visit.  As I left, he shook my hand, walked me to the door and asked me to come back soon.  That is truly excellent service.

Beans and Vines is small, but don’t let that fool you.  This restaurant mixes the best elements of a café, wine bar and restaurant to create a warm and wonderful place.  Their food dwarfs their loftier and larger competition and with attentive and friendly servers like Claudio, I am sure you’ll love it!  Remember, “Good things come in small packages!” Go taste for yourself! 

¡Buen provecho!

Beans And Vines

4842 Broadway Ave.
New York City, New York, 10034
212 544 2326

HOURS:  Monday-Saturday: 10am - 11pm. Sunday open for brunch from 11am - 9pm only.

ATMOSPHERE: Laid back and relaxed.

SERVICE: Excellent!

SOUND LEVEL: Conversational, with nice ambient music.
KID FRIENDLY: Yes, but it is a small space.


PRICE RANGE:  Sandwiches ($9-$9.50), Salads ($11-$13), Panini ($9-$10), Tapas ($5-$14), Entrees ($17-$31), Sides ($3-$6), Soups ($4-$6), and Dessert ($6).