Southern-style sophistication in Shreveport
Shreveport Lousiana’s Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop had humble beginnings as a package wine shop, but it’s grown into one of Shreveport’s finest fine dining establishments.
Under the leadership of Executive Chef Michael S. Brady, Wine Country has become an exciting and sophisticated destination dining and drinking establishment featuring Southern specialties with a sassy Louisiana spiciness and the chef’s own creative twists. And it’s all served in a classy, clubby atmosphere that encourages both diners and lounge guests linger.
The soups and salad choices at the Bistro aren’t just run-of-the-mill. They include original offerings such as Roasted Red Tomato Soup with apple-smoked bacon and thyme-chive cream; the Frenchman, mixed greens, Granny Smith apples, white wine poached potatoes, spiced pecans, and Gruyere cheese dressed with a light house vinaigrette; Baby Spinach Salad comes wilted spinach, creamy chunks of goat cheese, smoked pork belly, toasted pine nuts, purple cabbage, and a fried egg all dressed with a vinaigrette; the Wine Country Wedge is a big slice of iceberg with fried green tomatoes, grilled onions with housemade vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing.
The Tomato Soup offers a light tomato flavor that’s deepened with the smokiness of the bacon and sweetened by the apple. The Spinach Salad is surprisingly complex and delicious with plenty of chewy crispy bacon, buttery goat cheese, crunchy pine nuts, and the fried egg, which adds a lovely rich creaminess to the whole dish.
Wine country’s Shrimp and Grits isn’t like the creamy-cheesy variety many expect in the South. Instead, it’s a toothsome dish flavored with roasted garlic, local Andouílle sausage, big chunks of sweet crab and shrimp, and pieces of tomato, all cooked in a buttery buerre blanc.
Softshell crab, which you can order with one or two crabs, is sweet and succulent with kick that lasts well after you’ve finished the dish. The Crab Cakes, a terrific appetizer choice, have just the right crispiness on the outside and are loaded with salty-sweet flavor.
The Bistro offers a number of entrees ranging from duck to salmon and trout to beef steaks. The duck comes as perfectly cooked medallions over a bed of sweet-sour greens accompanied by a jalapeno corn pudding that has both sweetness and heat. The quail, this reviewer’s favorite, was grilled and crispy sweet on a bed of horseradish mashed potatoes. The ribeye, which comes with a mountain of French Fries , though flavorful, was a bit fatty and didn’t live up to the heights of the achieved by other dishes.
The desserts at Wine Country are worth a taste, especially the crème brulee ice cream, a cheesy creamy scoop of lusciousness set afire table side to caramelize the top and give it a contrasting sweet crunch. The classic bread pudding has a lovely bourbon caramel sauce, though the pudding itself would have been more successful if it was less dense.
The double chocolate cake, more a flourless tort than a cake, is a dense wedge of chocolate topped with a thick layer of raspberry cream with white wine vanilla honey. The crème brulee could have been slightly smoother, but had a nice custardy flavor and just the right crispy sugar top. The port macerated mixed berry cobbler is the classic grandma comfort dessert with the house made buttermilk ice cream lifting it into a higher realm.
Real bottom line: If you’re looking for a special meal with creative flair in a convivial atmosphere with great service, then Shreveport ’s Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop is well worth a stop. If you’re not in Shreveport, this is a restaurant that’s worth a trip to this little city on the Red River. —BH
Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop