Micro- and nano-breweries might be the “in” thing, continually adding new spots to the local bar and restaurant landscape. But while beer has had quite the social come-up, wine has been the relaxing, sipping, alcoholic beverage choice of many for centuries, and wine bars such as the Wine Mill have been a steady presence.
As one might expect from a place called the Wine Mill, situated in an actual old mill and former Indian-themed art and knickknack shop, it's pretty rustic. There's wood everything, everywhere, along with a few decorative relics from the building's long history and past incarnations. You'll definitely feel as if you're in an old mill and it lends a quaint, low-key atmosphere.
Overall, the space isn't very large. Downstairs, there's a bar on one side of the room and several tables for groups. Upstairs are a few tables and a nice lounge area with leather furniture and another small bar used for events. Some taller folks may find themselves reflexively stooping a bit should they try the upstairs tables, but there's plenty of room for all shapes and sizes in the cozy lounge.
Longtime friends Valerie Hennis of Peninsula and Brandi Smith of Macedonia were enjoying having the upstairs all to themselves while sipping wine and having a nosh of spinach artichoke skillet dip. Hennis lives nearby, making it easy for her to be a regular customer.
"A lot of the people who live in the neighborhood, we just walk here in the summer. They do have great food and service and a really quaint ... atmosphere. It's just a great and unique place. They have a hidden gem here,” Hennis said.
“Actually, I want to move to this neighborhood,” Smith said laughing.
Smith and Hennis have been friends for 20 years and usually just pick a place at random to meet, but Hennis brought her buddy to the Wine Mill this time and created another fan. The two have also attended private events there.
“We had a party in this room for [Hennis’] birthday and one for my mom last year,” Smith said. “They are really great at hosting. They did a really great job, they put a private bartender up there and the food is good, great service and my family loved the Moscato here. They all bought Moscato.”
Of course, the Wine Mill has wine, but if you've read this space, you know this writer is more of a beer snob. According to Phil Masturzo, the Beacon Journal's resident wine guy (he has an actual wine cellar, so you know he’s legit), the Wine Mill has a respectable variety of wines, including some of the better Ohio wines.
Most of its 50-some wines are offered by the glass and are in the $8-15 range with a couple of higher-priced vinos (What? You thought you were going to savor a glass of Salvestrin Retaggio for $10, C'mon, now?). There are reds, whites, some rosés, a couple of sparkling wines and a dessert port. Flights of any three house wines are also an option. For non-wine drinkers, there is also a decent selection of rotating craft beers and a few specialty cocktails.
The food menu is stacked with shareable items. The skillet dips for $18-$23 are definitely for more than one person. We’re not talking one of those cute, single-serving, pygmy skillets you get at some other hip spots. The New England Crab skillet ($23) we tried was full-sized and fully packed with gooey Jarlsberg cheese, a quarter-pound of crab meat and a liberal amount of Old Bay, and it was quite delicious with the fresh bread.
We also enjoyed the cheese board ($19), and had both the Greek and the pear and pecan mason jar salads, which come in big jars that you get to shake for some exercise before enjoying your roughage. We had to get to-go boxes.
Kelly Harris of Barberton visited with her sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Craig Dulaney of Green. Craig Dulaney is a big fan of the food.
“The spinach and artichoke dip is very good and I had the chicken Parmesan [oven-fried sliders with marinara and mozzarella], which is fantastic, and I’ve had their short ribs [with au jus, french bread and onion vines] before also, very good. And they’re large portions to share,” he said.
Harris was there for the first time and was impressed.
“I’m wondering why I hadn’t heard of it before,” Harris said. “The atmosphere ... I love it. It’s pretty quaint, it’s cozy, comfortable, I just feel like I’ve been here a million times, I love it.”
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.