Monday, September 14, 2009
Winter Park, Florida
Friday night date night lead Craig and I to Winter Park, Florida. Winter Park was founded as a resort destination by wealthy New England industrialists before the turn of the 20th century. It is recognized as the first centrally planned community in Florida; its main street includes not only public civic buildings and retail, but also art galleries, a private liberal arts college, museums, a park, a train station, a golf course country club, a historic cemetery, and a beach and boat launch. Winter Park is celebrated for a sense of place and history, uncommon to many parts of Central Florida. Many structures are more than 100 years old. The scenic old Winter Park area is punctuated by small, winding brick streets, and a canopy of old Southern Live Oak and Camphor trees, draped with Spanish Moss.
Over the last few years, there have been many favorite restaurants and bars that we've encountered in the back alleys and main streets of Winter Park. A new one, for Craig, was PF Changs. Having never really learned to like good Chinese food, he was reluctant to even try the restaurant; however, once we placed an order of lettuce wraps and some schezuan chicken, he was all over it! Now he knows, there's Chinese food, and then there is good Chinese food...
After getting our fill at PF Changs, we were going to stop into Houstons for a drink, another favorite; however, the Friday night crowd had more than taken over the beach chairs on the lawn, the dock was full and even the valet and side street parking was packed - so, on we went to Park Avenue. Along the way, Craig remembered The Wine Room.
In The Wine Room, there is a unique combination of wine bar and wine shop, where buying and tasting wine becomes a completely involving experience. They have a state-of-the-art Enomatic dispensing system which allows you to sample up to 150 wines in 1, 2.5 or 5 ounce portions.
To sample the wines, you purchase a $3.00 card and load it up with $$. We decided on $25 to start. Craig was looking for a sweet red, but found two that were rich in tanins, probably too rich! My favorite was the Specific Pacific Riesling. I sampled the 1 oz. first, for $2.00 and then decided just to get 5 ounces more - so, in the end, I paid $10 for a 6 oz. glass of wine, when I could have bought the whole bottle for $14.99...but, sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. I didn't want the whole bottle (at that moment), and I didn't want to wait until I got home to drink some more...Craig finally opted for 5 ounces of the Specific Pacific as well after giving up his hunt for the perfect red wine.
Normally, when you find the "flavor" that you prefer, you can purchase your wine by the bottle, and/or sip your selections in a cozy setting of leather sofas and armchairs. While you’re relaxing, you can complement your wine choices with a selection of hand-crafted meats and cheeses. This trip we were too full to even try the cheese and fruit selections, but I've had them on a previous visit and they're great - so, maybe next time, we still have a $4.30 credit! Whoopie!
Before we headed out, we took a quick tour through the "Locker Room". It's downstairs and is a place for private parties and events. I guess the building was an old bank and they used the safe and safety deposit box rooms to make this private room and the freezing cold "chiller" room next door.
All in all, Winter Park is a great place for date night...we'll have to go again soon...