So how do you pull offÂ a four course wine dinner for $19.99 per person? In our area, the best priced wine dinners have been set at $45. Average is more like $65 to $90.
Never Blue seems to have figured it out: serve tapasÂ paired withÂ wines that sell for $6 a bottle. I figured this could go one of two ways -Â teenyÂ portions of “okay” foodÂ served with sips of okayÂ wine, or a mealÂ of surprises that would leave me feeling like I’d gotten a greatÂ deal for my money.
Falling Star, a label produced byÂ Trapiche winery in Mendoza, Argentina,Â was the wine featured at this dinner.
First course: “Fish Sticks” – hand cut Grouper Fish Sticks, engagingly served in newspaper wrappers. Ever had fish and chips in Great Britain?Â At our table,Â we had a lively discussion aboutÂ what section of the paper we each had.
A wonderful lemon caper tartar sauce was served in the small plastic condiment cup you see pictured below. The fish sticks were just the right size for dipping.
ComplimentingÂ the fish sticks was the crisp, clean,Â Falling Star Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend.
Second course: “Pig in a Blanket” – a lovely and exceptionally good sausage made with sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella, wrapped in Parmesan herb butter pastry (blanket), served with a full grain mustard and honey mustard.
This was when, in between bites,Â people around the room began asking where they could get buy this sausage. I’m not a big sausage fan, but this was fantastic. I’m not a big Chardonnay fan either, but sipping the Falling Star version after a few bites of the sausage gave me a new appreciation.
Third course: “Meatloaf with Mashed Taters”. As our table of 7 talked about food, as usual, I remarked that growing up, I was served bland things like fish sticks, hot dogs, meatloaf,Â etc.Â At that, PIC laughed,Â “That’s just what we’re having at this dinner!” Not quite.
Paired with Falling Star Malbec-Merlot Blend, this was actually a nicely portioned serving of “chipotle marinated, fresh ground chuck meatloaf with smoked cheddar and garlic mashed potatoes.” Served with a rich brown gravy, this dish was comfort food at its best.
When I asked another diner what she thought of the Malbec-Merlot Blend, she got a funny look on her face and said, “I forgot the wine, the meatloaf is so good.” She nodded her approval after taking sips of the wine in between bites. A little fruity, a little spicy, medium weight and dry, this wine was described as “quaffable” by our host. And it was.
Fourth course: “Moon Pie” – We’d been warned to save room for dessert by Pam, co-owner of Never Blue, at the beginning of the dinner.Â This homemade dark chocolate moon pieÂ served with house made morello cherry ice cream and a lovely fruit sauceÂ was placed before us onÂ hot-pink paper plates – perfect!
The Falling Star Cabernet served with this course was probably my favorite wine of the evening. It went beautifully with the sweets.
I would have been happy with halfÂ this dessert, but ate everything anyway! Too much chocolate? Never! And that ice cream. I’d go back just for that. Do you hear me Jesse?
All the wines at thisÂ dinnerÂ were served in plastic cups. Not my favorite way to drink wine, but appreciated for theÂ cheap assÂ benefits.
This was an informal, fun, deliciousÂ dinner, shared with friends and family. A definite “bang for your buck experience,Â full of surprises.
119 South Main Street
Hendersonville, NC 28792-5083