The things that make for a good wine bar often have very little to do with wine. That part, you expect they would have nailed down. But what about ambiance? Food? Entertainment? We’ve seen many a vino bar fall by the wayside for not thinking enough outside the glass.
We think Foreign Legion has done the legwork. The third leg of the Russell Klein-Soo Line trifeca has been open for a few weeks now. For a swath of downtown bereft of good bars, Foreign Legion is a welcome tenant. Happy hours run from 4–6pm, with half-priced beer taps, and $4 house tap wine (yeah, we’ll sip on $4 gruner veltliner all autumn long).
The wine bar is a candlelit den, adorned like some combination of an osteria and a Hapsburg-era drawing room. It’s dark (hence the tunnel-vision photography, above) but it’ll start feeling more cozy than cloistered once the snow starts falling.
The focus of the menu is simple arrangements of artisan meats, cheeses, and vegetables designed for sharing and snacking. Maybe start with the Flavors of Provence plate ($8, above). It’s a straightforward nosh—some thin saucisson, mixed veggies, olive tapenade, roasted peppers and a goat milk cheese—served on a cross-sectioned log. Simple, easy, tasty, perfect.
The menu also includes a section of grilled cheese sandwiches. The duck confit-gorgonzola-red cabbage sounds just like that great panini we had upstairs at Cafe Zentral a while back. Under their “Jars to Share” menu, we demolished the duck rillettes, and did not share.
Soon, a retail shop bottle shop will open next door, so you can take away bottles of your favorite glasses from the menu. And check out their Sunday nights events—trivia, film screenings, and more.
Foreign Legion Wine Bar, Soo Line Building, 5th Street between 2nd Ave. and Marquette Ave., 612.333.0505. x300.