How the west is Wined

IT'S taken almost a year for Cecile Levee to open her wine bar, aptly called 'Wine with me'. "I wanted a place," shares Levee in-between staff briefing and stocktaking, "that looked and felt fabulous. I mean a place that felt warm, welcoming and would attract the serious wine drinkers, but more importantly, attract those who are not wine buffs per se, but have long wanted a great meal or snack paired with the perfect wine."

Levee, in her own inimitable style, has delivered an endroit that has surpassed the expectations of those who've climbed up the steps of Altamont West (the hotel where her wine bar is located) that 'Wine with me' tour desks are (we kid you not) a strong possibility.

Levee aside, what resonates is the great use of the 1,300 square feet with seating for about 50 around uber-mod tables, Bordeaux wine-red banquettes, tangy orange bar sofas, walls that are hot pink, rioja red, lipstick pink, maraschino cherry and thunderstorm grey with Godiva brown curtains. If that doesn't pique your interest and taste buds, there's the impressive Ras Dizzy collection, the brick walls lined with stainless steel wine holders, reference books on cigars, and wines on floating shelves by the bar.

The grey walls, you'll soon discover, provide an outlet for adoring fans to record their own feedback. For the less bold there's a mailbox that says 'SPEAK YOUR MIND' by the exit.

"Service is what I'm stressing here," states Levee. "I'm as obsessed about that as the food and wine on offer."

There's no doubting that obsession. 'Wine with me' offers mod plates of tuna carpaccio with a crispy caper dressing paired with Pinot Noir or the most amazing warm camembert with sautéed grapes paired with Gevrey Chambertin. Blue cheese and honey-roasted pear with thyme jus dressing comes paired with Sauternes. Sea scallops draped with sautéed grapes become even more exciting with a crispy Sauvignon Blanc.

We could take all day to list the many other innovations like the purée of sweet potato with crème fraiche and a splash of Sancrista sherry or the fact that your check comes in a black box that says 'THE DAMAGE'. And if you buy a bottle of wine that you can't finish, it's stored with your name for you to return and finish in a few days.

Sunday Cuisine reckons 'Wine with me' moments are priceless and we give the establishment (even though Levee swears that it's still a work in progress) two thumbs up. Do your own 'Wine with me' moment and give us your feedback.

'Wine with me' by Cecile Levee

Wine bar and café

Altamont West

33 Gloucester Ave

Montego Bay

Tel: 588-9162

whyten@jamaicaobserver.com

BY NOVIA McDONALD-WHYTE Contributing editor

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