Vin de Syrah: Down the Rabbit Hole

Yesterday I was feeling social and ventured out to an amazing little wine bar downtown. I am over-the-moon giddy with this place and felt immediately compelled to write a review.

To sum up the experience in three words: Alice in Wonderland.

::spoiler alert:: this place definitely has a few surprises, and if you’d rather experience them for yourselves the first time, discontinue reading review!

When you walk up to the place there is a modest sign that says VIN DE SYRAH with an arrow pointing downward.

(via Yelp)

This is when you literally walk down the rabbit hole. As you descend you are submerged in grafitti (like a cleaner version of the NY subway), and then there is an abrupt stop at the bottom of the stairs. You see a collage of posters, a door, and a grassy wall.

Most people immediately try that door. Only to find that it is locked. Ooooh this is where the fun begins! People get confused, frustrated, and in general are thinking what the…?

What is not immediately clear is that there is a SECRET door behind the grassy wall. All that shows is a little gold handle (which is mimicked by their entry page on their website):

See here?? Sneaky, sneaky!

Now here’s where the fun starts. When you walk through the secret door, you learn that you’ve been on a hidden camera the WHOLE TIME you were struggling to find the entrance, and it’s being played on a big screen for the entire bar to watch and laugh at! Embarassing! And highly entertaining!

(via Yelp)

What a fricken riot!

When you walk in the vibe is set. Heads Will Roll by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was playing. I look straight ahead and there are wine glasses, with candles in them, floating in the air. All around are green, grassy walls. The chairs and decor are outlandish – extremely high back booths, tables that are too small and make you feel large like Alice. There are mini umbrellas floating from the ceiling. There is no way my iphone could capture this, so I’m stealing a few images from their website to give you an idea:

In their own words:

inspired by the eclectic lounges of New York’s “meatpacking district” and the warm brasseries of turn of the century Paris, Vin De Syrah is complemented by amazing cheeses, desserts, and a friendly wine list. this subterranean yet organic space pays respect to the old but embraces the new world with a contemporary style all its own.

a much needed “breath of fresh air” for the Gaslamp Quarter, Vin De Syrah offers spirits, unique beer and of course, an array of beautiful wines by the glass. if it’s a dirty martini, a frosty Chimay, or a smooth glass of Bordeaux, this is the chill out parlor for you.

celebrated local designer Michael Soriano completely reinvents the downtown urban lounge with his botanical chandeliers, thick 50 year old wine vines, 12 foot natural wood candle lit tasting table, and semiprivate plush sitting rooms.

so whether you like the unique beats of san diego’s most eclectic djs or the soothing rhythms of live jazz, you’ll find yourself lost in the moment, enjoying the ambiance, music, food and drink that is simply, Vin De Syrah

I couldn’t agree more. My jaw was on the floor the whole night and I just wanted to soak it all in and really cherish the moment.

My friend and I ordered the Blend Board, which had a good sampling of meats and cheeses, marinated veggies, and a sweet honey jam. For wine, I ordered (appropriately) the petite syrah and my friend the cabernet. Both were good, but the cab had a little too much dark cherry sweetness for me.

One of the salamis had been soaked in wine. I made a salami + cheese + honey spread bite that was divine!

Here are the umbrellas:

Bjork was playing overhead. I was feeling my wine buzz. Enjoying some conversation. When all the sudden…we were hit with another surprise: BURLESQUE.

Below photo probably NSFW, fyi…

The lovely girls from Rouge decided to come perform. It was the icing on the cake and I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. The vintagey feel of old 50s songs and (fairly) innocent dancing was a great time.

Cheers, baby!

So, quick recap. Here’s my restaurant rating meter, completely just made up on the fly:

Drink Selection: (5/5) – Plenty of specialty cocktails, wines, and beer. No shortage of new things to try.

Food: (3/5) – Not because it wasn’t delicious, but there were only ‘small bites’ available. Do not come starving.

Date Night Approp?: (4/5) – Yes, especially if your date is cool. It may be a little on the funky side for a first date, but this is a great place to chill and have intimate conversation. There is much to talk about given the decor, music, and overall ambiance.

Would I go here again?: (5/5) Abso-fricken-lutely. What are you doing tonight?

Ambiance: (5/5) Take a hit of acid at the door. (I kid, it’s not that bad). Very well designed.

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  1. Cray as the day

     /  February 5, 2012

    I have been here and everything you say is true although the door trick only took me 30 seconds as I watched one of the bar tenders walk in right behind me and spoil it whilemy friend thought she was being funny

    Btw this place is awesome and recommended for everyone but get there early if u plan on sitting

  2. This place looks like so much fun. The perfect way to suspend reality for an afternoon.


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