We went to Henke Winery for dinner on Saturday night. This was the official conclusion to Ty's birthday week. I bought some flowers for her Saturday. We had agree on no gifts for this birthday because we both buy everything we want all the time, so when birthdays come up, there's nothing left to give. But, she always appreciates flowers.
We decided to go to Henke because we so enjoyed our tour of the wine county (not country) up in Ashtabula County. We were going to go to Vinoklet but, we found out most of their wines are sweet (5 out of 6) and they weren't open on Monday or Tuesday to take our reservation. I called Henke a couple of times during the week to firm up the plans and get information. Joe, the owner, answered both times and he called me on Friday to firm things up.
Chuck and Deb, Amy and Tom and Jon joined us. Unfortunately, Julie couldn't make it. We had a great time. George (our waiter) has a very Jon-like sense of humor. So, he was bantering with us the whole evening. The tour bus that as supposed to arrive at 5, ended up arriving at 6 (our arrival time) and messed up our plans a little. But, since we had planned a leisurely dinner, it was not a huge problem. I kept asking about a "tour" and both Joe and George were like "Well, we'll try to work it in."
The wines at Henke were pretty good. The problem, for me, is they are overprice for the quality they are. None were really bad. But at $12-26/bottle, I've had much better values. Also, the white wines were not chilled as cold as I would like them. The Pan Seared Cheese appetizer was wonderful, IMO. It was sharp white Vermont cheddar, rolled in herbed bread crumbs and seared (how do they do that?) The berry-wine sauce it was served on was heavenly.
Ty had salmon and I had the shrimp/pasta special. The salmon was I think the largest portion I've ever seen at a restaurant. She really enjoyed the salmon and her potatoes. The green beans were not so great. I had French Onion soup. And, that wasn't the best either. It was kind of sweet (the first time I've experienced that) and the herbs in it were overwhelming (and tasted like they were freeze-dried rather than fresh). The pizzas there looked great though and the table red wine was pretty good and reasonably priced. So, if we go back, we will probably do pizza.
We finally go that tour. It was hilarious though. George asked if we wanted to to do the tour before dinner. Jon asked how long it took. We gave Jon a hard time about that since the place was pretty small. It was obvious it was not a huge facility. When we got the tour, it was a trip to the basement where in one room they make and bottle the wine and the other room they stored it to ferment. It was literally no more than a 5-10 minute tour. If you saw the picture of Joe and the picture with all of us in it, you saw the "tour".
After dinner, Ty got the most unusual version of "Happy Birthday" anyone ever got. We told George it was her birthday and he said he'd take care of her. We were expecting a slice of cake or ice cream. The owner's wife came over to the table and said she had heard a little "secret". She presented Ty with an etched wine glass. But then, to our shock and dismay, burst into the loudest solo version of "Happy Birthday" any of us had ever heard. It wasn't the standard song either. There was even a huge thigh-slap in the middle of the song. It will not soon be forgotten.
It was a great evening. I think we ended up getting out of there around 9:30 (we arrived at 6).