This is the official launch of a series of columns meant to answer a very important question: can you get a decent glass of wine at a chain restaurant? As the mom of a five and a half year old, I am always looking for a dinner place that balances my desire to eat something healthy with Morgan’s desire to get food that she wants. I’m lucky because she loves salmon sashimi, but that comes with a price tag and isn’t something we can have daily. And if I find a place with good food, fair prices and I can get a decent glass of wine, you have my complete attention and loyalty.
Enter Cafe-Express. I know, I know – this isn’t truly a chain – but it does have 18 locations and I wanted to begin this series on a high note. I sat down recently with Greg Martin, the food and beverage manager, who talked about the wine program and I’ll let you in on a secret. You can get a ¼ bottle pour of a selection of wines not seen on your grocery store aisle for $6. Yes, $6 and it goes down to $5 during happy hour. The wine by the glass a great deal and there was a nice range of wines – Chalone Cabernet, The Next Riesling, Sterling Sauvignon Blanc, Monstrall Cabernet and Acrobat Pinot Gris – on my visit. And, you can buy the bottle and take it home.
Throw in the fact that Café Express’ menu is centered around fresh and good food for everyday dining using quality products and tested recipes, and you’ve got a great option for a meal with wine that won’t break the bank.