Ridge Wine Dinner, T-Box, Ham Lake, MN

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1431 147th Ave
Ham Lake, MN 55304
(763) 413-9950

tboxbarandgrill.com
http://www.ridgewine.com/

Neighborhood: Northern Suburbs of Minneapolis
Cuisine: New American
Cost: $$ = $11- $30 – Moderately priced (average entree $12-$34)
Wine Dinner – $75 per person
Four Forks = Defines excellence in local dining.  Worth the investment

Hours:
Monday through Thursday and Sunday 11AM – 10PM
Friday and Saturday 11AM – 11PM

SPECIAL FEATURES:  Private Wine Dinners. Chef’s Specials – 5PM-10PM, daily sandwich specials as well as homemade soups!

Handicap accessible: Yes
Parking: Private lot
Vegetarian options: Yes
Kid-friendly: No
Liquor served: Full Bar
Wine List:  Nice.  They have a hand selected wine with a nice variety from Germany, Oregon, France, Argentina, Chile, Washington, Paso Robles, Napa, and more.  A “Reserve Wine List” is available that is decent.
Outdoor seating: Yes
Reservations: Yes

This review is for the private wine dinner.  The food was presented by Executive Chef Greg Masilko

Unique:  The general menu has hearty portions of American classics – pizza, burgers, pork chops and flat-iron steak, but also offers a wide variety of fresh fish specials, which can be rare in our neck of the woods.  The food is eclectic, yet simple.   The wine dinners offer quality dishes with impressive presentations!

We eat here on a regular basis and recommend T-Box frequently.  This was our first experience with their private wine dinners and it was great!  The dinners are held in their private “Market Room”.  The tables were set up in one long line and a couple of the booths were also occupied.

MarketRoom

The dinner was hosted by Tom Lloyd of the Wine Company and Christina Donley who is the Regional Sales Manager of Ridge Vineyards.   Darrin Pender of Tournament Liquors was in attendance and it is my understanding that he does all of the purchasing of wines for both the store and the restaurant.    At Ridge, they begin with respect for the natural process that transforms fresh grapes into wine, and for the 19th century model of guiding that process with minimal intervention.  They have great vineyards that produce high-quality grapes of distinct, individual character, and are not only environmentally and socially responsible, but consistently make fine wine.

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We were greeted and allowed to sit in seats of our choice.  Bill and I sat near the head end of the table because he really likes to pay attention and hear what the representative has to say about the wines.  He is a real wine geek.  That’s not a bad thing!  He is simply a wine lover who seek out obscure grapes, unknown wine regions, and unconventional winemaking methods.  He geeks out over acidity levels, yeast strains, and things like brix ( a , measure of sugar content in grapes).  He is not a wine snob, who on the other hand, are a different type of oenophile (lover of wine) who tend to act pretentious and insufferable.  He wanted to be near Christina, who was friendly and cheerful and we all enjoyed sipping on some bubbles while we became acquainted before the dinner began.  The entire dinner experience was a relaxed and comfortable setting and though it was clear Christina had a lot of knowledge with her 10+ years of experience with Ridge, she managed to make the experience fun without any pretentious feel what so ever.

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Ridge provided a detailed specification sheet on each wine including the history, growing season, vintage, region and winemaking details on each wine.  It was an exceptional presentation.

Course #1
Salad of Lobster & Avocado atop Bibb Lettuce paired with Estate Chardonnay 2012

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The salad was creamy and flavorful!  The presentation was particularly fresh looking and colorful.  It paired perfectly with the wine.  This is a 100% Chardonnay from the Monte Bello Estate Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  14.5% alcohol by volume.

Course #2
Stilton with Poached Pear, Candied Walnuts & Chestnut Honey, paired with East Bench 2012

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This was a superior fusion of flavors.  The sweet and salty combination paired excellently with the 100% Zinfandel from Sonoma County.  The pears and nuts added a nice textural element to the dish.  This wine was 14.9% alcohol by volume.

Course #3
Roasted Duck Breast with Plum Sauce on Watercress, paired with Geyserville 2012

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The duck was delicious.  It was prepared so that the fat had a chance to render out of the skin, but the skin was not crispy like I would prefer.  Duck has a stronger, richer flavor than other poultry since duck flesh contains more oil and it paired well with this blend.  We enjoyed the sweet plum sauce and the watercress, which has a bitter tang to it.  The wine was a wonderful blend of 71% Zinfandel, 19% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro (Mourvedre) and 1% Alicante Bouschet.  This Sonoma County wine contained 14.4% alcohol by volume.

Course #4
Lamb Sugo & Garganelle, paired with Estate Merlot 2010

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Sugo is an Italian Stew.  This pasta dish was a bit milder than I expected because typically these types of stews are a rich, stewed meat sauce ladled atop buttery egg noodles.  These were likely a store bought type but did satisfy.  The lamb meat was tender and flavorful and the dish paired nicely with the Merlot.  I like the added touch of the fried herbs, but I would have liked a bit more cheese.  The Monte Bello Estate Vineyard wine is 100% Merlot from the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It contained 13.2% alcohol by volume.  

Course #5
Chocolate Pot de Creme with Hazelnut Tuile, paired with Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

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Pot de Creme essentially means “pot of custard.”  The consistency is richer than traditional American pudding and denser than a mousse.  The hazelnut tuile is a thin curved cookie, which was crisp and flavorful.  The nuts on the rich cream added a great crunch!  The dessert paired nicely with this wine.  It was mainly Cabernet Sauvignon at 82%, with 14% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.  It was produced from the fruit of the Santa Cruz Mountains and contained 13% alcohol by volume.

Overall, this was a superb wine dinner!

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We have since experienced a wine tasting at Tournament Liquors, located at 10901 Baltimore Street, Blaine, MN 55449 which is owned by the same gentleman who owns T-Box.  This liquor store is your “neighborhood wine shop” and carries a surprisingly large variety of wines from all over the world.  Darrin Pender is very knowledgeable and has an impressive amount of “staff picks” varieties.  We were thrilled to see one of our friend Pierre Seillan’s wines from Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux at a decent price!   

Lassegue

We’re confident that we will attend additional wine dinners at T-Box! 

Bon appetit!

~Chris

 

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