Nestled amidst the highway, a gas station, and a bevy of churches, Blue Star Wine Bar is either a hidden gem or a secret lair, depending on how you look at it.
Although the horseshoe bar, partially exposed brick, and wood paneling give off a relaxing vibe, make no doubt about it - there is a small science lab happening up front. In a blue-tinted case, a couple dozen bottles of red wine are kept at a constant 60 degrees. There are taps coming from the top of the case - each leads to a bottle, which in turn leads to a source of argon gas to push the wine through the tap. Fret not - argon is not only inert, odorless, and flavorless, but it's the third most common gas in the atmosphere.
Start the night off with some finger food: grilled garlic mushrooms sauteed in white wine reduction sauce with red pepper flakes go for $7, or some prosciutto-wrapped shrimp on a bed of zucchini and pine nuts can be had for $14. Vegetarians can dig into the caprese or the hummus plate. Those with more than a snacking hunger can grab some fish tacos for $13, or an array of sandwiches. A seared tilapia steak over portabella, red peppers, zucchini and eggplant goes for $16.
Or go all out and get one of the flatbread-style pizzas, full-sized serving 4-6 ($12-$16), or smaller as needed. Options include a Mediterranean, a rustic prosciutto, and a Comfort Pizza (with chicken, shiitake mushrooms, white cream sauce and balsamic). There's even a kids menu with chicken nuggets, quesadillas, and PB&J.
The pastry case in the back contains a selection of small but potent desserts. The Strawberry Shortcake's Naughty Sister is a chocolate twist on the old classic, while the Drunken Monkey is a chocolate cake shell with bananas, cranberries, and spiced rum. The house cookie cups are exactly what they sound like, and can be warmed up to hold a cold scoop of ice cream.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Dan Morgridge