Thursday, May 24, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Secret or not, Beaune's Wine Bar is a wine lover's paradise in Ybor City

The phrases "best-kept secret" and "hidden gem" get tossed around a lot. But it's exciting when I stumble upon a place that really makes those phrases ring true — like, for example, Beaune's Wine Bar.

Never heard of Beaune's (pronounced "bones," after the owner's favorite wine-growing region in France, after which his cat is also named)? Neither had I, at least consciously, until I found myself sitting at a stop light on 22nd and Palm in Ybor, staring at the side of a building painted with the name and informing me that a wine bar was located in the back. How many times had I passed that sign and simply not noticed it?

Here's the scoop: Beaune's Wine Bar is a classy, romantically lit lounge that's attached to West Palm Wines, a retail wine shop specializing exclusively in wines from the Old World and South America. There are no domestic or Australian wines, simply because it's impossible for a little place like this to keep competitive with the big chain stores that can buy in mega-bulk.

I knew as soon as I sat at the long, wooden bar in the back that this was a very serious wine bar. Classic jazz playing in the background, walls painted in rustic, Tuscan colors, and exposed brickwork on the rest. There was the bar itself — constructed from old, wooden wine boxes, naturally — a series of dimly lit dining areas; a large, spread out lounge with couches; and a connected walkway to the retail store, where nearly all of the wine available to drink at the bar is served.

Oh, and wine? That's all they serve at Beaune's — no beer, no liquor.

There is a wine list at Beaune's, but it's just a handful of wines by the glass, priced modestly at around $7-$10. I asked for a bottle list, but learned there is no bottle list, just the physical inventory in the retail store. Guests simply walk in, peruse the selection (which is kept at proper cellar temperature), and bring a bottle back to the bar, where they pay a standard corkage fee of $10, regardless of the bottle's price. A $6 bottle? You drink it at the bar for $16. A $400 bottle? $410.

Here's the other thing. Beaune's maintains a massive "old & rare" cellar, featuring both bottles for sale, as well as private cellar space for serious wine collectors. How serious? It's $495 per year per 20 cases of wine. The temperature is kept at 55 degrees around the clock, and the wines are fully insured by Lloyd's of London. Some people keep many, many more than 20 cases of wine here. So, pretty serious, I'd say.

In the retail portion of the rare and old cellar, you'll find plenty of fine wines, ranging from surprisingly affordable ($100 for some old ports and early '90s vintages) to the very big leagues, such as a $26,000 bottle of 1967 Chateau Lafite. There are even a few bottles from the 19th century available — the 19th century! I was told that these wines are almost certainly no longer drinkable, but man, that's cool. If you're into four- and five-figure tabs, you can make them here. But even if you're not, you can find some really special stuff that will nonetheless do very nicely for a special occasion (and with beautiful and intimate scenery in the wine bar to match).

I'm sure serious wine connoisseurs are chuckling at my insistence that this place is some sort of best-kept secret, as they've likely known about it for years. They must have, as there's just no way this bar could fly under the radar with them for as long as it did with me.

If you're not one of these folks, perhaps you'd even be interested in the regular wine classes held at Beaune's. They generally run from $35-$50 and focus on a specific region, exploring the history and style of its wines, complete with tastings and accompanying food from the restaurant. These are advertised on Beaune's website, but I'm told that some other private events, like the occasional jazz concert, are sent out via mailing list, which you can sign up for at the bar.

This is a true haven for wine lovers, whether you're an extremely serious collector who needs to break out a special bottle from your private on-site cellar space, or just a beer drinker like me with a bit of a taste for wine and a strong enthusiasm to learn more about it. [email protected]

Comments
Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmon’s was a meeting place

Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmon’s was a meeting place

It’s where former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams had lunch with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.It’s where University of South Florida fans often gathered to watch the program’s biggest road games.It’s where folks showed up in...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

Birchwood owner will open a three-story restaurant and bar at St. Petersburg pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck Prather, owner of the Birchwood in St. Petersburg, returned from his daughter’s Maine wedding this week with an exciting announcement of his own. On June 7 the St. Petersburg City Council is expected to sign off on him being on...
Updated: 6 hours ago
New restaurants on the horizon: Metro Diner and Zoes Kitchen in Tampa, Trophy Fish and Oak & Stone in St. Pete

New restaurants on the horizon: Metro Diner and Zoes Kitchen in Tampa, Trophy Fish and Oak & Stone in St. Pete

OPEN NOW: BAHAMA BUCK’SFeel a shiver? Just in time for Florida’s sultry summer, Bahama Buck’s opened this week in Trinity with an avalanche of sno. The 2,346-square-foot island-inspired shop opened at 8815 Mitchell Blvd. with more than 91 flavors of ...
Published: 05/23/18
Lee Roy Selmon's original Tampa restaurant is closing, marking the end of an era

Lee Roy Selmon's original Tampa restaurant is closing, marking the end of an era

Lee Roy Selmon’s, the restaurant that paid homage to the community icon who rose to fame as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and grew to become a popular civic leader, will shutter the doors of its original location on Tampa’s Boy Scout Boulevard in...
Published: 05/23/18
Brunch-based alcohol will be available at First Watch’s new Orlando location

Brunch-based alcohol will be available at First Watch’s new Orlando location

ORLANDO — The popular breakfast and brunch chain First Watch will be opening a new restaurant in Orlando that will add cocktails, beer and wine to the menu. The new concept restaurant, set to open on Memorial Day at 1448 N Alafaya Trail, will be 1,00...
Published: 05/23/18
Transform your weeknight cooking with this kitchen tool

Transform your weeknight cooking with this kitchen tool

Once upon a time, way back in the annals of home cooking, there was an era before sheet-pan suppers.In that dark age, even well-equipped kitchens did not have so much as a single professional sheet pan, let alone the two or three deemed indispensable...
Published: 05/23/18
Up your homemade smoothie game with these tips

Up your homemade smoothie game with these tips

You could head to your neighborhood juice shop and order a $7 or $8 smoothie. Blending your own, however, is not only easier on your wallet, but you can customize to your heart’s content and make several batches at a time.Whether you’re making a nutr...
Published: 05/23/18
Vanilla is complex, even smoky, and may be a baker’s best friend

Vanilla is complex, even smoky, and may be a baker’s best friend

By Kim OdeSomewhere along the line, vanilla became synonymous with bland or ordinary.Which is just plain wrong.Blame it on a world of Chubby Hubby ice cream and Candy Cane Oreos, where "more" sounds like "better," where fake flavors bolster profits.I...
Published: 05/23/18
I tried making restaurant-quality braised short ribs at home

I tried making restaurant-quality braised short ribs at home

One of my 2018 cooking resolutions was to cook at least 10 things this year that I never have before. Somewhere near the top of my list was short ribs. You can hardly eat at a restaurant now without seeing short rib in some form on the menu: braised,...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Five ideas for cooking with lavender

Five ideas for cooking with lavender

Lavender is almost as pretty to smell as it is to look at, but as far as taste goes, the results aren’t always as appealing. A little like cilantro, lavender can taste soapy to some people, making it a tricky plant to use properly. But, when used the...
Published: 05/22/18