What’s the best night to wander into an al fresco wine bar? A night when there’s a nice breeze, no crowds and half-price Bordeaux.
I found that trifecta on a recent Wednesday night in downtown West Palm in a patio bar that’s surrounded by vibrant murals. Sure, Fern Street Wine Bar and Kitchen has a nice indoor bar and dining area, and it’s vibe-y enough for a rainy night. But on this night, too lovely for indoors, the courtyard was the place to be.
The open-air setting is priceless with its lounge-y nooks and tables, swirl of oversized art renderings and nice, leafy touches. Plus, there’s this feeling of being in the city but just detached enough to find it magical. (As in: Parking is not a problem.)
Of course, no outdoor wine bar can guarantee a gentle breeze, but Fern Street can promise the next best thing: good wine at value prices at mid-week. That means you can sip anything, from a Napa sauvignon blanc to a Brunello di Montalcino to a supple Gevrey-Chambertin for half the price per bottle.
What’s especially nice is that there are noteworthy bites and excellent service to go with that good wine. They stream out of executive chef Chris Healey’s kitchen at Fern Street.
On the night I visited, we enjoyed not only an easy-drinking Bordeaux blend, but also a full feast of handsomely presented dishes:
• A flavorful drum of ahi tuna tartare ($16) layered with avocado and pickled cucumber in a hoisin vinaigrette.
• House-smoked pork belly wedges ($16), juicy beneath a crisp char, served with an arugula salad that was tossed with shallots, Parmesan shavings and honey vinaigrette and topped with an organic honeycomb.
• A generous roasted veggie board ($19) that included a beautifully charred array of broccoli, thin, whole carrots, asparagus spears, cauliflower, red and yellow baby tomatoes, plus sauteed onions over a bit of hummus.
• Tender and tasty North Carolina smoked ribs ($21) that had been cooked in an onsite smoker and stacked like a makeshift fort atop a wood board.
• A highly shareable s’mores skillet ($10) that was neither dazzling nor dismal.
This would have been a delicious meal on any night, even enjoyed indoors. But it was the added layer of courtyard vibes that made it truly memorable.