Vin sur Vingt Serves Up Wine and a Good Time
Come here for the wine list — not for the food
Vin sur vingt (1529 14th St NW) does not take reservations. With six locations in New York City, this mini-chain refuses to adapt to the DC norm of booking their entire dining room solid days in advance — a decision I admire, not least because they were able to accommodate our table for two at 7pm on a Friday.
The room is intimate, all low ceilings, round edges, and soft lighting. The walls are lined with an elegant row of bottles, emphasizing this restaurant’s most important offering: wine. (You gotta appreciate recycled decor!)
Am I a sommelier? No. However, I must comment on the wine here, because it’s how this restaurant differentiates itself from other standard French fare. With their extensive exploratory wine list, this is a great place to try new things, both for wine connoisseurs and for the fools like me who can’t tell the difference between a $50 bottle and wine that comes from a box from Trader Joe’s.
We ordered a white wine flight ($18) so as to test the waters, and it came with a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chenin Blanc, and a Chardonnay. For the first time in my young adult life, I felt empowered to try to have an opinion on wine — and even if that opinion was simply “This one seems a little more sour, maybe,” it was still a lot of fun to be able to experiment without judgement.
Food-wise, there’s nothing special going on at Vin sur Vingt. This isn’t necessarily a defect: there’s a lot going for this restaurant. The food simply isn’t one of those things.
We ordered the tomate tartine, a warm zucchini tapas dish, and the mussels marnière with a side of fries. Both of the plant-based dishes were just shy of being adequately flavored, which was a shame, because the zucchini dish in particular was a great concept. The fries were exactly what you’d expect — nothing wrong with them, but nowhere near transcendent. They also came cold, which didn’t help.
The big winner of the night was the mussels marnière, served with sliced shallots, garlic, and leek. Mussels are mussels, so it’s hard to mess them up so totally as to make them inedible; however, I really appreciated Vin sur Vingt’s addition of the shallots, which added texture and made the experience of biting into each mussel more interesting. We ordered a side of bread to mop up the broth, and it was the best decision we’ve ever made.
The perfect time to visit Vin sur Vingt would be a hot summer night, when the sun has just begun to set behind the buildings on the other side of 14th. Ask to be seated outdoors, take a chance on splitting an interesting bottle of wine and maybe some charcuterie, and then lean back to watch the passersby. You don’t need to bother with ordering off the food menu — the vibes are enough. With any luck, the moment that the French waiter asks if you’d like another glass will coincide with a trick of the light, and it’ll be easy to pretend you’re in the centre du Paris.