A couple w alks into a wine bar and asks if there are winetastings or suggested pairings to complement the food. There aren't. What about half-pours? Another no. All the place offers are wines by the bottle and by the glass. But the couple's goal is to try as many wines as possible — word has gotten out that the owners are two Argentine sommeliers. Finally, the hostess politely says they'll figure something out.
The result: Six glasses of red (three ounces each) cover the couple's small table. Each glass bears a handwritten label held by a miniature wooden clothespin. Little about this format makes sense, especially at a wine bar, but kudos to the staff at Bunbury for the effort. The wine, by the way, is aptly chilled. And the chance to sample a half-dozen varietals for $28 is exciting. (Though the tasting isn't on the menu, a manager said anyone who walks in can partake of it.)
It may be the funky space (a converted tire shop filled with tchotchkes and mismatched furniture), the upbeat music (Frankie Valli and Neil Diamond followed by a contemporary DJ and even live jazz some nights), the booze, or all three, but Bunbury in Edgewater is simply charming. The twinkle lights on the terrace, Latin small plates, and fair prices also make it an ideal spot for large parties and intimate dates alike; by 8:30 p.m., the place brims with both.
Regarding those small plates: In the year Bunbury has been open, its baked empanadas ($4) have gained a devoted following. A recent special consisting of spinach, zucchini, and Parmesan didn't disappoint. The bronzed crescent packed flavor and crunch.
Another comforting and crowd-pleasing menu item is a plate of gently fried shrimp balls ($11). Each orb contains a concentrated dose of tasty crustacean with a subtle spiciness. A salad of toasted corn, avocado, and tomato on the plate's edge is a refreshing complement.
A trio of beef sliders ($11) and a duck breast ($18), however, arrived overcooked and fell flat despite a lovely presentation. Overall, though, a night at Bunbury is as fun as it looks and sounds.
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