Lucky Plano. It just got what might be Dallas-Fort Worth Restaurant of the Year in Sixty Vines. Located in the prosaic Windhaven Plaza, at the northeast corner of Parker and the Tollway, the location can be explained by the fact that Sixty Vines is the creation of Dallas’ best restaurant concept company, Front Burner Restaurants, and Whiskey Cake, which brought this strip mall back from oblivion, is adjacent.
Sixty Vines borrows a lot from Whiskey Cake. The food is serious farm-to-table with de rigueur house-cured meats. The servers are very knowledgeable about the menu and offer a welcoming enthusiasm. Atmosphere is a civilized “don’t stand on ceremony” casualness where suits and sneakers are equally welcome. However, the menu here is simpler than at Whiskey Cake, with an eye on Northern California wine country in its creation.
Guests won’t be surprised to discover a long wine list at Sixty Vines, but they may be chuffed to find that 41 wines are on tap. Wine kegs feature a special nozzle that lets wine out and argon in to fill the space above the liquid. When wine comes into contact with oxygen it oxidizes, making it taste subdued and “burned” after, typically, one day. Kegs eliminate wasted wine and, when emptied, are returned to the distributor to be reused (thousands of times), also reducing costs. Sixty Vines serves glasses of 2.5 (a taste), 5, or 8 ounces. There are still bottles on offer, bringing the total number of wines available by the glass to — you guessed it — 60. The wine selection has a domestic slant and includes good Texas wines (including Duchman Trebbiano). Sixty Vines’ own label, Vine Huggers, makes a frequent appearance.
“Wine on tap allows us to serve the perfect pour – any size the guests wants, absolutely fresh and at the perfect temperature, exactly as the winemaker intended, all while saving tons of glass from landfill,” general manager Justin Beam says.
Mention must go to the best wine service in town (service that puts many more expensive restaurants to shame). Three Certified Sommeliers are on the staff, plus the owners put 75 front-of-house new hires through the Court of Master Sommelier Level One Introductory Seminar and Examination as pre-opening training.
Beer-lovers will find 18 craft beers from Dallas, the state of Texas, and farther afield as well. The House Brews are the work of brewmaster Tom Janik. He makes an American white ale (unfiltered wheat), an IPA (assertive, floral, and fruity), and a bourbon barrel-aged brown ale (Buffalo Trace) that’s a bit sweet, malty, and delicious, and that recently won a bronze medal at The Great American Beer Festival.
Start the meal with one of the “shared plates,” and maybe a “board” (cheese, salumi, or both), or salad. Roasted beet from the salad section featured a light show of purple, candy-striped, and golden beets seeded with micro basil and baby mint all lightly doused with extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. A refreshing start, and the Vine Huggers Sauvignon Blanc is a good beverage choice here.
Steelhead trout is a great main course. The oak-grilled filet is a flavorful, oily fish in the same mode as salmon or halibut and comes topped with tarragon, garlic, and coriander butter. It comes served with chilled heirloom bean salad but check out the à la carte sides because Sixty Vines can be added to the growing phalanx of restaurants that elevate vegetables to first-class menu items. Take the Brussels sprouts for example. Listed dryly as “Brussels,” they are oven-roasted and sprinkled with kung pao vinaigrette, scallions, and cashews. Plaudits to executive chef John Franke and chef de cuisine Stan Rodrigues. Also a noteworthy main dish is the pork rib, whey-brined and served with sage brown butter and butter-roasted tri-color carrots.
Desserts are a short list that consists mainly of Sixty Vines’ take on traditional favorites. The devil’s food cake with salted caramel ice cream was a splendid sweet finish. Do save room for coffee (or tea). The list will impress gourmands.
“Our parent company is Front Burner Restaurants, but this concept has been on the ‘back burner’ for quite some time,” Beam says. “We are passionate about a millennial, sustainable, and unpretentious approach to wine service and wine paired with food inspired by the Napa/Sonoma wine country. One of our goals with this program was to challenge the status quo, and introduce a brand-new attitude about wine culture all while being served by welcome wine geeks.”
Think of Sixty Vines as part elevated wine bar, part neighborhood place, part destination. It is already popular so head there soon. Out-of-town visitors to Plano or Frisco will find it an easy ride from hotels.