DINING REVIEW: 2South's ambitions sometimes fall short
Details: 2South Food & Wine Bar
Restaurant Character: Friendly, welcoming wine bar in a restored Victorian house in Old Colorado City. A promising premise if they can work out some food and service issues and bring the whole menu up to its potential.
Rating total: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Food: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Service: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Address: 2 S. 25th St.
Contact: 351-2806, www.2southwinebar.com
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Sun., Tues., Weds.; 11 a.m.-midnight Thurs.-Sat.; closed Mondays
Alcohol: wine and beer
Credit cards: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
What's online as of Feb. 20, 2013:
- 81 percent of 22 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon
- 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 7 reviews on Yelp
- Very active on Facebook; search "2South Wine Bar"
- No violations requiring follow-up were marked after November, 2012 inspection by the El Paso County Health Department
I lived a lot of years without visiting a wine bar. What was wrong with me?
I cured that failing when I ventured into 2South.
It’s a welcoming place, whether you want a glass of wine with friends or a quiet dinner. The restored Victorian house in Old Colorado City has a casual, cozy vibe with refinished hardwood floors and wooden window frames that match the original designs and are accented with modern touches like a wine bottle chandelier.
The owners are ambitious and anxious to please, although their reach is somewhat exceeding their grasp right now. Open since early October, I hope their growing pains will be worked out soon. But they’ll have to make some tough decisions about whether to keep producing so many in-house-made items that aren’t reaching their potential, and spend a little more time educating their staff about the wine list.
The wine list is long and interesting. Wines by the glass run from $7-$18, with most in the $10-$13 range. The Molly Dooker Sparkling Shiraz ($18/glass) was a revelation, since I don’t think of “red” and “sparkling” together unless I’m talking about gemstones. Also appealing were the Erath Pinot Blanc ($9) and Excelsior Cabernet ($7).
One of the nicer facets of 2South is that they’ll bring you a sample of any wine to try before you order a whole glass or bottle. Unfortunately, on one of our visits they were out of several by-the-glass wines we wanted to try. And while one waitress was happy to convey our questions about the wine to her boss, she wasn’t able to answer many of them on her own.
For dinner, we were seated upstairs and waited on by the owner. We started with the roasted red pepper soup ($6). This soup is marvelous and deceptively simple, earthy, sweet and tangy. Roasted red peppers are combined with herbs, chicken stock and a touch of cream, then pureed until barely chunky and given a drizzle of olive oil. The steak and fries ($16) was visually impressive. Two architectural piles of steak fries supported two tender, beefy pieces of grilled flank steak. Each steak was topped with a light schmear of blue cheese and some fairly limp fried onion strings. The braised lamb belly ($16) brought a small but totally satisfying portion of this rich and meltingly tender lamb. The salad that comes with it is an excellent counterpoint to the luxurious texture and flavor of the lamb. Blanched but still crunchy green beans were combined with peas, pea shoots and mint in a vinaigrette, offering a welcome crunch and acidity.
A Thursday evening trip for drinks with two intrepid girlfriends was not quite as successful. The waitress was friendly but not completely up to speed on the wine. The food on this trip was hit or miss. The salt and vinegar fries lacked vinegar. The sesame ginger fries had flecks of fresh ginger, but came with an unappealing dish of mayo drizzled with sesame oil instead of sprinkled with sesame seeds. I believe it was supposed to be an aioli, but if there’s no flavor of garlic, it’s just mayonnaise.
The cheese and charcuterie plate ($16) was a mixed bag. There were only two meats — house-cured bacon, which was dry and very salty, and a dry but mild sausage, slightly sweet from the dried apricots and cranberries. The platter also held two scoops of blue cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and while I’m not a fan of the blue, this was good, savory and not too biting. The house ricotta was topped with a house gardiniera, which gave it some needed zip. The house mozzarella, sadly, was tough and bland. It lacked the creamy softness you’d expect from a fresh cheese. The spicy sliced pickles tucked on the side, however, were divine. Tart and briny at first, the heat exploded in the back of your mouth.
The appetizer winner was the salmon platter ($16). The smoked salmon had a delicate flavor and moist texture. The lox has the right balance of salt and sweet, and a nice, firm texture. The salmon carpaccio with a caper vinaigrette was raw fish at its finest, tasting of rich salmon and the sea.
Sadly, we didn’t end the evening on a strong note. There was some pounding in another room earlier in the evening, and when a table near us was cleared, the loud crumpling of the brown paper that covers all the tables stopped our conversation. This was followed by the champagne-poached pear ($6). The pear was hard, almost too hard to cut with a spoon. The center had been filled with something that tasted and felt like an uncooked streusel, both pasty and gritty.
Still, the dinner experience was good enough to bring me back for lunch. The kale chips ($5) were pretty and tasty, but a touch too greasy. The accompanying lemon aioli just weighed down the brittle greens, adding a greasy feel but not much flavor. We fared much better with the hummus plate ($10), a mound was surrounded by cucumber, celery and pita wedges. This hummus isn’t as sharp and garlicky as one might expect — the dominant flavor is roasted red pepper, which gives a smoky flavor with a slightly sweet note.
The burger ($10), which was nestled in a pretzel bun, was cooked exactly as I asked for it — no pink in the middle but still juicy and full of flavor. It came topped with more of the incredible spicy pickles, cheddar cheese, bacon mayo and honey mustard, enough condiments to give it flavor without sliding off the bun or dripping down my hands.
Would I go back to 2South? Yes. I’m hoping they have their issues resolved by the time warmer weather arrives, because their patio has a great view of the mountains and looks like a perfect spot to sit back, relax and sip some vino.