Although Tampa's Hyde Park and SoHo neighborhood is known primarily for late-night clubbing and crowded pubs, there are plenty of places offering something a little more low key and intimate, and you don't even need to look very hard.
One of the latest is Wine & Wood, a small wine bar and wood-fired pizzeria located in a former Subway attached to a Chase bank. That doesn't sound especially promising, but the Wine & Wood folks have done a fine job transforming the space into a wonderfully chill wine bar with a neat little menu that I've seen described at least a dozen times online as "veggie forward."
I'm a vegetarian, so this caught my interest, but I'm also vegan, so the fact that every dish on the menu also contained cheese was a bit of a letdown. I'd love to tell you that the wood-fired green beans, brussels sprouts and corn salad were all outstanding sans fromage, but the kitchen was closed about 90 minutes before closing time, so I was unable to find out.
Fortunately, that's where the bad news ends. The good news is that Wine & Wood scores points on décor, layout and, yes, wine. Lots of wine.
There's beer too: six on tap, half locals (Cigar City, Rock Bros, Sea Dog), plus the delicious Abita Strawberry lager, Peroni Nastro Azzurro Italian lager and Michelob Ultra. The cheapest of the bunch are the Ultra and Peroni, but the $7 price tag is a shocker. The rest are $8 a pint. That's either Hyde Park pricing or the owners really want you to order wine instead. Heck, it's right in the name.
So let's look at the wine menu. This is a good list, and though the prices are still skewed a little on the higher side, there's lots to work with. More than 60 wines in all, in fact, including six options on draft, all $9 or less. The draft wines are a good option for multiple reasons: price, freshness (virtually no oxidation), ideal serving temperatures and flexible serving sizes (glass, half-carafe, full carafe).
I'm a fan of the menu organization, which splits wines into categories that are a lot more helpful than just white/red/rosé. I'm a fan of heavily oaked chardonnay, so it's convenient that these get their own section apart from the unoaked chards in the "fresh, clean whites" category. And wouldn't you know it, my favorite is on the menu: a remarkably robust chardonnay from California's Rombauer Vineyards.
Reds are organized by body (light-, medium- and full-bodied), and there are a handful of bubbly and rosé options in the lineup, as well as a house sangria. Best of all, about two-thirds of the wines in stock are available by the glass, so you can dabble quite a bit. If you really want to explore, check out the flights: four small pours of draft wines for $15 or of bottled wines for $20. Not a bad way to do some grape-based globetrotting.
Aside from the excellent wine list, Wine & Wood also boasts some really nice digs for a former Subway. It's one of those familiar weathered brick-and-wood affairs, complete with hanging mason jars as light enclosures. There are assorted knickknacks ranging from a life-sized bronze dog statue to a cool model sailboat peppered throughout the tall shelves of wine bottles, punctuated by two TVs behind the bar playing an eclectic mix of music videos (Harry Connick Jr.?).
There's a roll-up shutter door at the entrance, which I imagine could roll up if it weren't brutally hot outside. If you want some fresh air, step out front to find lots of additional seating in a roomy patio replete with artificial turf and ivy, shade-covered booths and bar-stool seating facing Swann Avenue.
Next time I'll get to Wine & Wood early to make sure I can have a crack at these wood-fired veggies, but the first half of the name is nothing to shake a stick at. Good wine, good vibe, and you don't have to stand in a line to get in on a Wednesday night. That's an easy sell.
— Contact Justin Grant at email@example.com. Follow @WordsWithJG.
Wine & Wood
614 S Howard Ave., Unit C, Tampa. (813) 284-7346
The vibe: An industrial-chic wine bar serving small plates and wood-fired pizza.
Food: Small plates and pizza, $9-$25; desserts, $8-$10.
Booze: Beer and wine. Beer, $7-$9; wine, $8-$17 by the glass and $30-$150 by the bottle.
Specialty: There are over 60 wines in stock at any given time, including six on draft — a serving method that prevents oxidation and ensures dialed-in temperature controls. In other words: a perfect glass every time. Try sample pours of four of them in a flight for $15 or switch to a flight of wines poured from the bottle for more variety at a $5 upcharge.
Hours: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday; closed Sunday.