Wine Dive on Clematis Street is no dive bar

A few weeks ago, the Wine Dive quietly opened its doors at 319 Clematis St. in West Palm Beach. Contrary to its name, the Wine Dive’s first impression exudes sophistication on a block famous for its nightclubs frequented by the young, scantily-clad, skinny-jean, hipster crowd.

The space is warm and inviting, with its exposed brick, dark woods and slight industrial feel. The bar is handsomely done, with a hammered tin trim and floor-to-ceiling glass-encased wine cellar, piled high with steel wine racks. The décor features some colorful artwork and unique wine glass chandeliers handcrafted by a friend of Wine Dive owner, John Webb, who also owns Roxy’s two doors down.

There is outdoor seating and high tops along the open doors bordering Clematis Street. Inside are large, cozy semi-circular booths with dramatic high-backed red velvet-tufted cushions.

The Wine Dive’s menu features a large selection of “trendy” small-plate choices such as bison sliders, “BLT,” tuna tartare with avocado and ginger sauce, and figs wrapped in bacon and stuffed with camembert cheese.

You can also design your own artisan cheese plate from a selection of cheeses, cured meats and pates ranging from $15 for three choices to $33 for seven. Served on a large, wooden board with a pecan-and-date pate, truffle honey and fresh fruit, the presentation is impressive. We thoroughly enjoyed our choices of the Fiscalini cheddar, Grana Padano and bresaola.

If you want something different, try Wine Dive’s “Hot Ass Rocks,” which comes with a choice of very thin slices of marinated steak and/or tuna ($16 for either) that you cook at your table on a hot rock. The thin slivers of meat and fish cook in under a minute. It’s fun and tasty but not recommended if you are hungry.

We also tried the merlot-and-gruyere fondue served with pretzel bread. The fondue, which resembled a bowl of soup, formed a film by the time it got to our table and was cold in a matter of seconds.

There is nothing that says “dive bar” about the drink prices at the Wine Dive, either, with cocktails starting at around $10 and wines by the glass starting at $12. Bottles of wine range from $30 to $150.

The Wine Dive is a nice early-evening spot offering two-for-one on house wine and $1-off cocktails from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. On Thursdays and Fridays, enjoy Blue Point oysters for $1 each from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Live music is featured on the weekends in a back room that starts out with some dining tables in the early part of the night but eventually becomes a dance area.

As the night progresses, though, the Wine Dive loses some of its unique sophistication as it fills up with a club crowd typical of Clematis Street.

Menu prices range from $8 to $27 for dinner and $6 to $17 for lunch. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, the Wine Dive will be featuring lunch specials such as two-for-one in March, and it plans to regularly change its menu. For more information, please call 561-318-8821.

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