by Carmina de Alba
images courtesy Dilworth Tasting Room
After an exhausting day of looking at commercial real estate for his new bar concept, Jaffer Kovic drove by Tremont Avenue, where a unique building caught his eye. It was a 1947s styled building that reminded him of the architecture back home in New York City, from where he recently moved. The first floor flaunted a for-rent sign, and in that moment he said, “This is it!” As Kovic viewed the 2800-sq.-ft. space, he visualized it to be the home of the new Dilworth Tasting Room.
Kovic and his father, a master carpenter, styled the interior and preserved most of its original features. They kept the exposed red brick wall and industrial ceilings, to which they added gas light fixtures, mahogany and copper columns, and a beautifully-detailed bar of the same materials. The renovation took a couple of months, and in January 2017, the vino and beer bar opened its doors to the great expectation of the neighborhood.
Upon entrance, your sight is drawn to the two massive gogi-berry chesterfield sofas facing each other in the middle of the room. They are not only stunning in craftsmanship, but are also inviting and even comfortable to sit on. Custom made gold colored couches also line the windows opposite the bar. These are all the handy work of Cococo, a local couch company.
On one side of the room, the exposed brick is decorated with three massive paintings from California painter Craig Alan, whose novel anthologies and narrative collections are well-known in the contemporary fine arts world. On the opposite side, a lineup of 200 wine bottles stocks the shelves. These are intended for retail by the bottle or case.
The two guitars that hang on a wall give the space a personal touch. Mementos of the owner’s stint as a heavy metal musician back in the 2000s. In contrast, a Hello Kitty portrait colored by one of his children hangs by the kitchen, and it’s more indicative of his current life as a family man.
Most visitors are unsuspecting of the surprise waiting for them on the other side of the lateral doors. As you step outside, you’re immediately charmed by an patio brimming with plants with a pond filled with colorful koi fish as its centerpiece. The scene is complimented with a coppertop bar inviting you to sip refreshing Rosé’s on upcoming summer evenings.
The building, décor, and ambiance are not the only thing for which the Dilworth Tasting Room can be noted, however. Kovic, who is a sommelier with a long tenure as a wine director, has put together a comprehensive list of wines and beers. His idea is that everyone from novices to connoisseurs can come to a place that tosses out stuffy pretenses and be provided with a worthy selection for every taste and palate. His personal wine favorites are the Austrian white Grüner Veltliner, and the Côtes du Rhône’s J.L. Chave “Mon Coeur” red. Although Kovic is a fan of local beers, he leaves that to the breweries in the area and recommends a dark Scottish ale—the Traquair Jacobite, among 30 others options.
The affordable wine list is paired with chef-driven bar fare that is just as palatable and reasonably priced. I was delighted with the roasted grape bruschetta, the cheese truffle panini, and a succulent cheese and charcuterie spread. The latter was served on a wooden board, accompanied by olives, fruit jelly, and fresh bread. The final touch was given as the only dessert on the menu was served. The “chocolate bites and truffles” is a selection in housemade dark and white chocolate thins seasoned with rice crispies, nuts, and spices—the perfect pairing to a Canadian Ice-wine. But no review could be complete without commenting on the service; the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, making the visit an overall superb experience.
Dilworth Tasting Room opens every evening at 4 p.m., with special nights like “half-off” Rosé Thursdays—a night the owner claims is not only for ladies, since, as he cleverly puts it, “Real men drink pink.” Jazz nights and even early Sunday coffee and pastries are planned in the near future, making this a well-rounded hang out spot for adults of all age ranges.
The coming of the Dilworth Tasting Room to the Charlotte scene is evidence that the epicurean bar and food scene is growing to demand venues with the caliber of those in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. This place pays homage to its name; it’s a room for tasting wines, beers, and fine accompaniments. Barflies and foodies should definitely pay a visit to this neighborhood spot bound to become a Charlotte classic.
Dilworth Tasting Room
300 East Tremont Street | Charlotte
by Carmina de Alba