Nothing complements a good meal like a good glass of wine. A good restaurateur understands this, which is why wine dinners are so popular. They attract wine connoisseurs and novices alike, while also being an elegant affair. However, Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, with three locations in Chicago, is upping the wine dinner ante, hosting three simultaneous dinners July 10 to honor the Silver Oak Cellars wineries 40th anniversary.
John Colletti, managing partner at Gibsons, says the restaurant started “doing wine dinners a few years ago,” when customers started asking if they would host them. And they’ve proven successful. “We’ve become a little more relaxed now finding that they do sell out so fast,” Colletti explains. “They have since day one, for that matter.”
In fact, that success comes from finding the right partner.
“Our relationship with Silver Oak started many years ago,” he explains, noting that it was 24 years ago that Silver Oak came into the restaurant and asked to sell their wine. Gibsons is now the “biggest independent purchaser of Silver Oak for a restaurant,” he says.
That relationship has been ever-evolving, with the winery and the restaurant on parallel trajectories.
“We’ve seen Silver Oak grow as we’ve seen our business grow,” he says. “Plus, he says, Silver Oak complements Gibsons menu. One of the reasons the relationship between the two is so strong is that Gibsons is “a big California wine restaurant.”
“We’re an American steakhouse serving great American wines,” he says.
Gibsons Executive Chef Daniel Huebschmann crafted a seven-course meal that pairs each wine with the entrée for the wine dinner. All three restaurants will serve the same meal, which “is not an easy thing to do,” says Colletti.
The dinners, limited to under 60 people and cost $220 per head, include passed Gibsons Shrimp Cocktail, USDA Gibsons Prime Angus Beef Tartare, King Crab Cocktails for the appetizers, served with a 2011 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc. That is followed by the main course of Citrus Cured Alaskan Halibut with a 2011 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc; Seared King Salmon served with a 2009 Twomey Pinot Noir Anderson Valley; a 6 Points Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with a 2007 Twomey Merlot; a Sonoma Valley Rack of Lamb with a 2008 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; and Gibsons Surf and Turf served with a 2007 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Guests will finish the meal with a 2007 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that is paired with a chocolate cake.
During the wine dinners, the winery representative explains the different wines, while the Chef explains each course throughout the meal.
The small setting is “more intimate and really feel as though it’s a one-on-one scenario,” Colletti says.
“We like doing this to bring people in and see the difference in our culinary tradition,” he says, adding that another popular facet of the wine dinners is that “some of the profit will go to charity.”
Although the wine dinners don’t entirely provide a fruitful bottom line because “they’re high in food cost and labor cost” Colletti says, they are about much more than that. “We do it as something for the customer. This is not done to make a significant profit. This is actually fun and a give back to the customer.”
This wine dinner stands out from the rest, as it honors a great business partner with great food and great guests—three times over.
“We’ve been fortunate that (our regulars are) really close to us. They come out and enjoy the dinners,” he explains. “They want us to tell them in advance, so they can lock it in their calendar.