Cuvee Wine & Bistro - Ocala - A Local Review

I've been at this marriage thing about three years now, and in that time I've learned many of the important ins and outs of this institution. For example, I've learned that wives often grade their husbands, not based on the fulfillment of his manly duties, but rather how he stacks up when compared to the spouses of her friends and family. So when one of my best friends and my brother both planned surprise dinners and weekends away for their wives, I knew the clock was ticking for me to spring into action. Hoping that a nice evening "out on the town" would do the trick, I booked the two of us a reservation at Cuvee Wine & Bistro.
In an attempt to emphasize my efforts, I kept our destination a secret for most of the week. That is, until 5 minutes before we were set to leave, when I managed to accidentally spill the beans. While I pretended to be upset at this slip, I wasn't all that concerned, because I had emailed the restaurant's general manager earlier in the day, and requested two glasses of champagne and our favorite cheese flight be waiting on our arrival. Just as I'd hoped, the look my wife gave me as we arrived at our table more than offset the blown surprise, and I knew her simple "You punk" confirmed her delight.
The Champagne and English Cheddar

If you follow along here often, you may remember that I previously reviewed Cuvee for my friends at Zest Florida Foodie. On that day, neither of us were in the mood for a huge meal, so we opted to go tapas style and sampled several of Cuvee's appetizers. For this visit, there would be no wimpy display of consumption, because I came hungry.....

Some of the many wines offered at Cuvee

First we started off with the previously mentioned Belton Farms English Cheddar cheese flight. We discovered this cheese on our previous visit, and to the casual observer it may have been tough to tell which I loved more; my wife, or the cheese. The stuff is delicious, and part of me wishes it could be part of every meal, although I'm sure my arteries would disagree.

The unique "Cuveene" system

After we finished our champagne, we took a stroll around the restaurant attempting to decide which wine we would try next. Cuvee's interactive system for dispensing wine is very unique, and is as big, if not a bigger, reason to visit the restaurant. The system offers nearly 100 wines, and allows guests to choose 3 different size pours, with full glass prices ranging from $5-$112. Being in the mood for a solid red, I opted for the Chateau Montelena Cabernet, while my wife opted for a blend who's name fails me.

The Ahi Tuna

Getting back to the food, I chose the appetizer special for the evening, which happened to be one of my favorites...Seared Ahi Tuna. The dish was absolutely gorgeous, and to my delight tasted as good as it looked. For her appetizer, my wife went with the Tuscan Scallops, which I had enjoyed on our previous visit. These were served in a rosemary sauce with bits of pancetta, and were so rich she was unable to eat them all, which brought a somewhat evil grin to my face...

The Tuscan Scallops...I stole one.

After successfully executing my plot to obtain her last scallop, we moved on to our mains. My wife chose the special of the evening, which was a black grouper served atop lobster risotto. When the plate arrived, about the only thing which would have made my mouth water more at that point, was if chocolate sauce was somehow incorporated into the dish. Once again, she managed to only eat half the serving, with the leftovers no doubt making the best lunch in history. (Correction: Apparently I paid no attention to what my wife ordered, because it was not the grouper. Insert same review for the Pollo Caprese here).

The wife's entree...The Pollo Caprese

I was feeling carnivorous this evening, so for my entree I went with the Filet Mignon, which was paired with the customary mashed potatoes and asparagus. I threw the chef a curve ball when I requested some bearnaise sauce, and when the soup sized bowl of heaven arrived, it was clear this was no redi-mix. As for the steak, it was perfectly cooked, and would rival any premier steakhouse I've visited.

The Filet and Bearnaise

As for dessert, well the decision to order the Bananas Foster was made far earlier in the evening. I must admit, I'm not a big fan of bananas, so I've only had this dessert on a couple of occasions. While preparing the dish tableside, our server Dana explained they deep freeze the ice cream for several days, to ensure it doesn't become a soupy mess when mixed with the bananas. After a few bites, I was wondering how many moments of happiness I'd deprived myself in the past, by steering clear of this awesome dessert.

Dana's awesome version of Bananas Foster

Speaking of Dana, his service was exceptional, and that's probably an understatement. When he heard I tried the Montelena Cabernet, he gave me the full background on the winery, and their feature in the movie Bottle Shock. A true professional, he was attentive to all of our needs, but did so in an understated way that didn't interfere with our dinner.

From the wine, to the food and service, everything about our dinner at Cuvee was simply outstanding. Sure I blew the surprise of our destination, but everything from then on was simply exceptional. So if you're tired of your friends making you look bad, take her out to Cuvee Wine & Bistro, and you'll be guaranteed a little bit of redemption.

Enjoy Your Stay

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