Looking for the “wow factor” in Raleigh dining? Look no further than Vidrio, a Mediterranean restaurant that delights the eye and the palate.
Deciding to avoid conventional choices, we recently opted to try out Vidrio on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. It was a memorable evening for all the right reasons.
Vidrio means “glass” in Spanish and you won’t wait long to discover why it is an appropriate name. The feature attraction in the expansive main dining room is a soaring wall of more than 350 glass discs created by an Ohio artist.
In every direction it is a visual treat with unique lighting fixtures, a hanging rope sculpture, intriguing textures and a setting that exudes style. Even if we didn’t eat a bite, a visit to the restaurant would be satisfying.
Of course, we were there to eat (and drink). So we did.
Tip Top Tapas
We are tapas aficionados. The main reason being that you end up with what amounts to a tasting menu. In some restaurants if you don’t like your entree, you’re out of luck. You can come back in a month or two and try something else. With tapas, if you don’t care for one small plate you can sample one of the other four or five dishes.
The Vidrio mantra is “earth, flavor and wine” and we were ready to experience it all. Although it took a while to get service and wade through the many options, our ticket was soon on the way to the kitchen. Our picks included green chickpea humus, Moroccan beef skewers, charred octopus and a fig flatbread.
I told my wife that I wanted to treat her to dinner at a very special restaurant – and Vidrio met that expectation. Of course, the fact that Vidrio also has more than 50 wines on tap was certainly at top of mind!
There are a couple of problems with wine by the glass in restaurants. First, you are usually much better off buying a bottle because if you each have two glasses, you’ll pay more and get less ordering by the glass. The second disappointing problem is that in many restaurants partially consumed bottles sit around in less than ideal conditions, sometimes for days.
Enter wine by the keg! Wine by the keg dispels those issues. The kegs are pressurized so each glass should be good to the last drop. I also like the sustainability angle. There’s much less packaging involved with a reusable keg versus a glass bottle, label and cork for every 750 ML of wine.
Tapping The Wine
For the hummus and octopus, we went white. With the flexibility of the wine on tap program, and very reasonable costs ($8 for a 6 oz. pour of many great wines and half that for a 3 oz. pour), we went by the glass.
The charred octopus was stellar! When in Spain, the octopus I tried was cut into medallions, usually served with olive oil and potatoes. At Vidrio, the tentacles were charred whole and we sliced them to enjoy with our chorizo vinaigrette and beans. We started with a glass of Greek Asyrtiko and French Muscadet. My wife assumed that the Muscadet would be sweet, but this great wine made from Melon de Bourgogne was fresh, delicious and off-dry.
For our later plates, we enjoyed a glass of Truth or Consequences Wahluke Slope (Washington) Merlot and a glass of Spanish Garnacha. Each of the glasses we enjoyed was fresh, fresh, fresh! Like a new bottle was just opened.
The tap system serves not only the bar on the first floor, but also runs up to the bar on the second floor. No matter what unique space you enjoy at Vidrio, you’ll have the freshest wine. There is also a wealth of craft cocktails and craft beer available.
Vidrio is a destination restaurant. You can hang in the downstairs bar, which opens to the night air, soak in the aesthetics in the main dining room or explore the upper regions. Meals are artfully prepared and the vibe combined with the great food and drink means we’ll be returning to Vidrio in the very near future.