Tucked alongside a row of storefronts on Pike Avenue in Covington, Ripple Wine Bar has such an unassuming presence that you might simply miss it. I found it solely final winter, and after a fast cease for wine and appetizers on the bar I turned an on the spot fan. Not too long ago, I returned with a number of buddies to expertise a full night of the place’s food and drinks.
Wine bars appear to be having a second in Higher Cincinnati lately, with two new ones opening this summer season in East Walnut Hills (Symposium) and O’Bryonville (Annata). Ripple opened three years in the past — lower than one yr earlier than COVID-19 introduced our eating scene to a crashing halt.
In early 2021 after vaccination efforts made company really feel snug sufficient to renew in-person eating, Ripple’s homeowners made some personnel adjustments and cast forward. Now it’s thriving as a semi-casual, cozy and really enjoyable place to get pleasure from glorious wines, refreshing cocktails and fairly a number of tasty dishes.
The meals comes out of a “kitchen” that appears means too small to provide every thing on the menu: greater than 25 appetizers, entrees and sides together with charcuterie boards and several other desserts. I put “kitchen” in quotes as a result of the food-prep area is nothing greater than an open space on the entrance of the bar the place a few cooks work with unbelievable effectivity to feed everybody. A staffer described the area as “simply barely sufficiently big for 3 folks to work in.”
The identical environment friendly use of area applies to the eating areas in what must be the smallest constructing on the block. There’s an upstairs eating room that may seat as much as 30 patrons, with bar seating at floor degree for an additional 18. A few sidewalk tables add a bit extra capability. Reservations are a should, even for the bar seats and particularly in the course of the weekend.
Not all institutions calling themselves wine bars are as wine-savvy and dedicated to high quality as the parents at Ripple are. One of many personnel adjustments in 2021 was to rent sommelier and common supervisor Gabriella DiVincenzo. She and homeowners Matthew and Kathleen Haws have created a wine choice that may please nearly any palate and fall inside most budgets. Subsequent door, they’ve added a small retail store the place you should purchase bottles of something on Ripple’s record together with different fastidiously curated wines. The staff additionally has a wine membership that hosts particular dinners and tastings, totally on Sundays when Ripple is closed.
The restaurant’s wine record adjustments marginally each couple of months whereas remaining constant in its stability of some dozen pink wines, a handful of sparklers, a number of rosés and 14-15 whites. Most of those are served from a state-of-the-art Cruvinet system that retains open bottles from being oxygenated in order that the final serving tastes pretty much as good as when the bottle is simply opened.
There’s a pleasant number of costs, and you may order virtually any wine by the half glass in addition to by the glass or bottle. A few of the picks are greater than what I’d often spend for a bottle and it’s a deal with to have the ability to attempt a glass or half-glass of wines that go for $70 or extra. On my latest go to, I liked each sip of the Albert Boxler Alsatian white mix with our appetizers, adopted by a luscious Girard petit sirah from Napa that went splendidly with my entrée.
In the event you don’t know a lot about wine and aren’t positive the place to begin, simply ask for steering. DiVincenzo says that whereas wine may be intimidating to the uninitiated, she has nice confidence within the workers’s potential to demystify the expertise.
“Of the numerous eating places I’ve labored at, I’m most pleased with the workers at Ripple and the way they make [understanding wine] straightforward for the company,” she says.
However earlier than you sip something, you should definitely take within the funky-cool means the Haws have rebuilt and embellished the place. Their work began in 2018 with a demolition and intestine job on a constructing that’s over 100 years outdated.
“We needed to maintain as a lot of the area in its unique type as we might,” says Kathleen Haws. “However we additionally needed to modernize the inside and use the area as effectively as attainable.”
She and her husband scrutinized historic pictures of the constructing to assist obtain that mix of outdated and new. They refurbished current porcelain tiles on the surface of the constructing and tore out inside partitions to show unique brickwork. After getting the electrical and plumbing as much as present constructing code requirements, they consulted with the design agency Orleans Growth to complete the inside. They selected black-and-white hexagon formed tiles for flooring, harkening again to photographs from the Nineties when Pike Avenue was a busy industrial space.
Native artist Jon Flannery created cartoon-like murals for a number of partitions, mixing with the black and white shade palette that Haws says supported their objective of creating wine approachable and enjoyable. The white paint on inside partitions helps make the small area appear bigger, whereas the rope lighting and butcher block bar provides trendy parts to the historic area. The result’s a super-contemporary, city ambiance that will match comfortably into a cool Brooklyn or Denver neighborhood.
What must you eat? You may begin with one thing like truffle popcorn, a charcuterie board or the delicious shrimp nachos. Beef Wellington popovers — with a filling of braised beef brief rib, mushroom duxelles and pecorino cheese — can promote out early as a result of they’re so scrumptious.
There are a few salads, three flatbreads and a half dozen entrées. We particularly favored the scallops and a filet mignon with potatoes and a very good chimichurri sauce. Entrée parts aren’t giant, however you gained’t go away hungry should you partake of a few of the appetizers and salads.
For dessert, you possibly can’t go unsuitable with a slice of house-made salted caramel cheesecake and maybe an “after-party” glass of port, Madeira, sherry or dessert wine.
Ripple Wine Bar, 4 W. Pike St., Covington.Information: ripplewinebar.com.