It seems a rule that any place that calls itself a wine bar must offer a cheese and charcuterie board. Copper Vine, the Central Business District “wine pub,” is no exception, and it serves a generous and changing spread of cured meats and robust cheeses such as Serrano ham, spicy sopressata, Irish cheddar, funky blue cheese and wedges of brie. The selections are not exotic or rare, but they’re hearty enough to lay a foundation for the spot’s focus on wine.
Copper Vine presents guests with a list of 30 wines served on tap. Diners can choose a 2.5-ounce half-glass, a 5-ounce glass, an 8-ounce “carafe” or a full bottle’s worth, and there also is a list of bottled wines. The small pours allow guests to sample a broader variety of offerings.
The two-story building on the corner of Poydras Street and O’Keefe Avenue is a historic landmark formerly home to the Creole restaurant Maylie’s, which opened in 1876 and closed in the mid-1980s. The space underwent a massive renovation since its previous occupant, Happy’s Irish Pub, but still features the original bar, a long wooden centerpiece anchoring the downstairs room. For a space so beautifully restored and designed, the lighting downstairs is too bright in the evening and needs to be dimmed. Dining al fresco is possible, weather permitting, and the terrace and upstairs wraparound balcony are great options for warmer days.
Chef Mike Brewer designed a large menu that extends well beyond the charcuterie selection and typical wine bar snacking fare. A plate of juicy roasted yellow and red beets arrives with thick dollops of honey-laced goat cheese and a garlicky beetroot pesto. The multidimensional dish has nutty, herbaceous, creamy and acidic layers and hits the mark.
Duck fat fries could have been crispier but were tasty nonetheless, showered with grated Parmesan and served with aioli. Thin-crust flatbreads are available with a variety of toppings such as duck confit with bacon jam or escargot with a pork trotter marinara. A fig and goat cheese version features sweet fig preserves, arugula and a thick drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Larger plates include an enormous serving of pork belly atop cornbread pudding with lacquered braised greens and an umami-rich shiitake mushroom demi-glace — a dish that’s hard to finish and hard to resist.
A smaller but equally rich dish of oven-roasted mushroom pasta includes wide, thick ribbons of pasta draped in a creamy Parmesan cream sauce and topped with a soft-poached egg, which on one visit was overcooked but didn’t detract from the dish’s overall comfort-food appeal. A surprisingly light bouillabaisse has crabmeat, shrimp, grilled redfish and herbed vegetables, including zucchini and cherry tomatoes.
Copper Vine opened in the first week of September and begins lunch service this week. While small, shareable plates feel like the most appropriate choices given the wine bar format, there is plenty here to suit a variety of palates, no matter the time of day or one’s preferences in wine.