September 16, 2014
Wining onSunday, July 20, 2014
Unwind by the glass
For The Herald
A quick flashback. We’ve had the Latin America 50 Best chef treading terroir new (Roux), we’ve had Tô’s cook branch out (Per Se), the young pork specialist in Monserrat (Chochán) and another 50 Best winner opening up shop in a downtown hotel (Marieta).
And within those two weeks during which a sporting diversion was caused, believe it or not three more establishments worthy of note have opened: the NOLA chef from New Orleans opened up a gastro-pub on Friday; BASA’s chef has branched out with an adorable gastro-café, both in Palermo; and yet another wine bar has popped up in Hollywood.
But first, the promised wine bar that launched a month ago. Trova is on a busy corner of Ravignani, and I say this as a warning to any drivers pottering down that street who might spy the eye-catching wine cave, which could be a simple reason for causing a traffic collision.
That’s right, park up in a safe way, and wander in. And I only encourage drink driving because this is a tasting room rather than a restaurant with wine, and my theory is you can sample one of the week’s 20 rotating wines by the glass (running the gamut of sparkling to big red from 45 pesos) then carry on home safely under the limit.
Well, I say tasting room, that’s what it should be, but the concept is a tad confusing, because Trova also acts up as a restaurant with specials of the day. And after sampling the propuesta del día (130 pesos), I wish they had gone all in and said “our wine-bar is dedicated to serving the best nosh that’s goes with that.” Tapas.
They do have a delicious if pricey array of tapas dishes to share, from squid rings to burrata cheese (90 pesos), original pork-stuffed olives (80 pesos) and smoked salmon (110 pesos).
As if I had a moral ground from my stool and despite dining in company, my inner singleton wondered whether it would be acceptable to consume a whole burrata on one’s own over a glass of post-work wine. Some (me) wouldn’t think twice but my point is there aren’t any half portions available if you just want to nibble on something for fun in that post-work, pick-me-up.
The gooey cheese with some Parma ham and rehydrated sundried tomatoes was beautifully presented, and the latter was so much more exciting than the regular-style ones, sweeter, a less chewy texture.
Laid out in tribute to Italy’s flag, this was a great little dish to share and well matched with the blackberry-based Cabernet Franc Rosé from Benegas.
The pork mince-stuffed olives, breaded and fried, were also a delectable treat, while the lamb skewers, doused with coarse black pepper, were divinely rare, and we hadn’t even asked for them to be done that way.
It was thumbs up for the tapas devoured. And, to be honest, I’d have been up for sampling the remainder of that menu such as Parma prawns and carpaccio, but we were lured into mushroom risotto and creamy salmon pasta — two of the day’s three dishes — nice enough but left me feeling so bloated that the Ramanegra Pinot Noir became obsolete quite fast. (In fact, as you can get 20 wines by the glass, I’d have preferred an oaky Chardonnay to this red, which lost its way in the cream.)
I get the need to cater to the local TV production crowd during the day, but it would be great if Trova had actually set the pace for wine bars. It’s just confusing, because there’s hearty dishes on the menu but I’m perched on a bar stool which insinuates an in-and-out job, there’s wine everywhere, but should I have tapas but they’re quite expensive so maybe it’s better to have a main course then I forget about the wine.
See? It’s confusing! And that’s a massive shame because the whole point is the sacred grape.
But back to the positives and the tasting room part. Trova stocks 200 labels, a well-endowed selection with substantial representation from boutique wineries, and the private dining room where there’s room for 3,000 bottles to live is immaculate if chilly, of course.
Also acting as a wine store, take home something tasty at vinoteca prices, which will of course be bumped up if you consume the same on site. Perch at the bar, a handsome looking spot.
For a little more privacy, head upstairs to the mezzanine which will open out onto a terrace come summer; up another small flight and you’ll unearth the main salon. They hold tastings every Tuesday at 7pm, which is free if you spend a minimum of 100 pesos on wine (standard).
Trova has a lot going for it. But I reckon it could have been so much more.