Wine 4 Oysters Bar & Bites is a charming little restaurant on South Alafaya Trail in the Shoppes of Eastwood. It’s a small storefront space with a few tables and chairs along one wall and a bar on the other. That the spaces at the bar seem to fill up before the tables lets you know that this is a neighborhoody kind of place.
It’s a mom and pop operation run by Tatiana Golenkova and Andrey Makhotin, who are mom and pop to Nikolay, who also works at the restaurant on weekends.
As the name suggests, oysters are a forte here, but this is not your divey kind of oyster bar with a concrete counter and shuckings scraped on the floor. The wine part of the name conveys its more boutiquey atmosphere, which may be one of the reasons that women made up most of the guests on the evening I visited recently.
The entire left side of the menu is devoted to oysters and their many preparations. P.E.I. and Blue Point were featured on my visit. My companion and I selected the baked oyster sampler, which got us two each of the pomegranate, grilled cheese, Kilpatrick and “on fire” oysters for a a very reasonable $22.
The oysters were loaded with their respective toppings though none overwhelmed the plump bivalves. The Kirkpatrick, a blend of chopped bacon and barbecue sauce, was a favorite. So, too, the grilled cheese, which had a nice garlic note. Sriracha and butter added the fire to the hot version and pomegranate let the oyster shine through the most.
From the other side of the menu, my friend chose the jambalaya, a very nice version with plump bits of crawfish, shrimp and sausage, which added a nice spicy note.
I chose the lamb tacos, an impressive amount of shredded meat layered on warm flour tortillas and topped with an Asian slaw. The sesame flavor of the slaw was perfect with the gaminess of the meat.
We also enjoyed the smoked tuna dip with house-made crackers.
And goat cheese crostini with a kalamata tapenade with slices of fresh and doughy baguette as a base. Delicious.
Golenkova ably commands the dining room while Makhotin works the kitchen. The wine list is international in scope and includes a good number of selections available by the glass.
They have plans to open a second location in the Bay Hill area as early as next month. Golenkova told me it would feature fewer of the kitchen items and more of the oysters, wines and craft beers. Pretty much all one needs in life.