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Winemaker's Journal — Wine Thief adds eatery

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The Wine Thief has added lunch and dinner.

Looking for something special and different for lunch or dinner? Something that might pair perfectly with a glass of chilled Albarino or Chardonnay.

The Wine Thief, downtown Wenatchee's trendiest wine bar and shop, is now The Wine Thief & Eatery, serving fresh and healthy lunch with European flair six days a week. Dinners are served each Friday evening starting at 5 p.m.

Owners Paul and Jenni McNeill have hired family friend and bistro chef Chrystalle Weins and former Eatery Park owner/chef Tony Davis to run their new kitchen in the rear of their wine shop at 120 N. Wenatchee Ave.

The simple lunch menu focuses on crudité, deconstructed salads featuring raw, blanched and roasted seasonal vegetables, grilled meats and whole grains. One dish features roasted and sliced red and gold beets layered in a tangy goat cheese and cauliflower puree over fresh organic endive and watercress drizzled with an Italy-inspired vinaigrette. Did I say simple? Maybe elegant is a better word. You can add slices of grilled steak or fresh Dungeness crab if you like.

There's also sandwiches, seasonal soups like cold cucumber gazpacho and asparagus and crab and decadent desserts.

Full course Friday dinners are single offering affairs left up to the chef's whims and what fresh ingredients available. Last weekend's dinner featured leg of lamb with rustic pasta. Nearly everything is made from scratch by Weins and Davis.

Wine pairings are suggested for all meals, but you don't have to order wine with any meal, said Paul McNeill. Sodas, Pellegrino and ice teas are available. There's always a selection of micro brews on tap too.

Starting in August, The Wine Thief will also have a full coffee and espresso bar featuring Stumptown Coffee, an old world style Portland-based coffee roaster that has attracted a cult following, McNeill said.

The kitchen also enables the store to have more private wine dinners, parties and wine club events without having to hire an outside caterer, he said.

Of course, The Wine Thief is also a great place to find wines not to be found in grocery and liquor stores. Paul and Jenni are constantly on the look-out for prized wines from small wineries. Often, they're wines that are usually only available at the wineries themselves. Prices range from a  $3.50 California Chardonnay to a $450 Ermitage ex voto Rhone Valley red from France. Most wines are priced in the $10 to $20 range. McNeill said he sells a lot of upper end wines in the $30 to $50 range.

"We work hard to know what we have on the shelf and learn each customer's tastes so we can suit them, but also continue to broaden their horizons," he said. "We don't like customers to be disappointed."

The selection of wines and beers available by the glass changes every week or so. Friday nights are flight nights, when you can taste four wines from a particular winery or four examples of a particular wine style from different wineries.

"It's whatever I feel like doing," he said. "That's what's really fun. Often, it gives me a chance to sneak in something good that people might not think to try."

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