With so many foreign teachers or expats living in Daegu, one may think every bar and restaurant in the city has been discovered, either through word of mouth or through individual exploration. Yet there remain a number of establishments that slip under our radars. I feel it necessary to drag us away from the monotony of the same ol’ ho-hum “foreigner bars” (you know the ones) and venture further out. Here is the first installment of “Hidden Gems – The Bar Scene”.
The Wine House. As the name suggests, you will find an extensive variety of world wines complemented by authentic Italian meals and appetizers. Located in Jisan-dong in Suseong-gu, the Wine House caters to the affluent residents of this upscale neighborhood resulting in a haute culture atmosphere with a mid to high price range. If you’re looking for a classy, quiet atmosphere with friends (or on a date) this place is definitely for you. If you’re looking to “kick it up a notch” then perhaps you should look elsewhere.
From the street, the well crafted and elegantly decorated patio catches your eye and prepares you for the elite clientele you may well find inside. Greeted respectfully by tuxedo-clad servers, you will find a mellow dining area flanked by a wall of fine wines. The ambient European classical music provides the appropriate environment for the intended occasion (whatever that may be).
Once seated, take a few minutes to peruse the menu for it is quite extensive with Red wines from Italy (from regions Veneto, Toscana, Piemonte, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Campagna, and Sicilia) ranging from a modest 39,000 won to as high as bank breaking 475,000 won. This list alone may take you an evening’s perusal. France is nothing to sneeze at either, with expensive Bordeaux wines from 42,000 won up to jaw-dropping 340,000 won. You will also find Reds from the French regions of Bourgogne and Rhone. Keeping to western Europe, Spain provides the most modest of pricing, ranging from 33,000 won to 125,000 won. If you want a taste of the USA, you’ll find your common Californian wines from 36,000 won. Chile is my personal favorite, with prices comparable to the rest. Open up the wallets.
White wines are less popular here in Korea; the list is meek in comparison to the Red. There are eight varieties from Italy, six from France, Germany claims three (Reisling is the claim to fame for German White), one Chardonnay from USA and three varieties from Australia. Prices range from 31,000 won up to 90,000 won.
If Sparkling wine is your fancy, a nice bottle of Dom Perignon fetches 214,000 won. If you want to impress your company, perhaps this is for you. However, if you want to simply appear to be worldly, perhaps the Balbi Soprani (35,000 won) is more appropriate.
My wife and I had a delicious bottle of Chilean Shiraz/Cabernet called Carmen Reserve. At only 35,000 won, I must say I was quite impressed. Poured expertly by an experience server, this full flavoured and oaky Red is my recommendation for Shiraz fans. My wife found herself laughing at my rather shocking enjoyment of the bottle.
As for food, the best choice would be an antipasto which are accompanied by a myriad of cheeses, compulsory to the enjoyment of a good bottle of wine. All food is prepared by the Lark Sun restaurant next door to the Wine House. Authentically Italian, the antipasto list includes such dishes as sliced tomatoes seasoned with oregano topped with sliced mozzarella. My father prepares this as a light snack in the summer time and the chef at Lark Sun makes it to perfection. My wife chose an Italian favorite to snack upon: Prosciutto wrapped honey dew melon. The meat was perfect: salty and lean. This plate was accompanied by an assortment of cheeses which include Brie, Camembert, Friulani and Gorganzola amongst others. A perfect compliment to our Carmen Reserve.
The lunch menu (noon to 3pm) contains two full Italian course meals which include freshly baked bread, choice of pasta, salad, a meat plate of either Ribeye or a Chicken Leg, plus coffee or tea. This fetches 33,000 won.
The Lark Sun special (a whopping 75,000 won) contains fresh bread, pasta of choice, sauteed goose liver with a sherry wine syrup, soup, sorbet, beef tenderloin, dessert of the day, and of course coffee or tea.
There are three set dinner menus similar to the Lunch selection, but these fetch 45,000 won to 56,000 won. However, there is an A la Carte menu with common items such as Risotto, pizza and pastas ranging from 14,000 won to 17,000 won.
My wife and I didn’t partake in either Dinner or Lunch. We found it more important to enjoy the wine and cheese as opposed to the meals themselves (for an enjoyable Italian dinner or lunch, visit the Lark Sun). For less than 70,000 won my wife and I enjoyed a great night out; a date of sorts. Too many times have we found ourselves at the downtown “foreigner bars” pounding back beer and tequila. It’s an approachable place; nothing to be intimidated by. In fact, while my wife and I sat on the patio, I was actually disappointed to see a group of young women in their twenties wearing shorts and t-shirts. It’s fancy only if you want it to be.
It’s nice to mix things up and enjoy some fine wines, a luxury here in Korea. Wine is a rarity and to find such an extensive collection is quite the accomplishment. The prices may scare some, but it’s definitely worth it. Perhaps coming on payday is a logical choice!
The Wine House and Lark Sun are located up the hill from Dong-A department store. Not a difficult to place to find.
Phone Number: 053-783-6377.
Written by Riccardo Giovanniello