Vinifera is a very, very good restaurant that I will visit again soon. The menu was interesting with a generous list of "small plates" and varied number of fish, meat and veggie entrees. My wife and I tried two of the small plates - the crab cake and a Ahi tuna tartar - both were outstanding. Caution, the small plates are tapas-like but truly small, but I encourage you to try them. Sure beats a salad or traditional appetizer. For entrees, we had the lamb dish and the paella. Again, both dishes were prepared nicely, good flavors, but not predictable. The service was also superb. Our waitress (think her name was Shanda) was friendly, efficient and helpful with drink and food choices. Lastly, the restaurant decor is modern and fine, with a nice side outdoor area which is great for a pre-dinner or after dinner drink, although overall we couldn't shake the feeling that we were eating in a hotel. Vinifera is located in the Westin hotel in Reston.
So, why didn't I rate Vinifera a "high five"? Two reasons - while the wine by the bottle list was impressive, the by-the-glass wine choices were very limited and only included mainstream, low-end wines. Since my wife likes white and I prefer red wine, a bottle wasn't an option. The second reason may sound petty. I had made the reservation thru Opentable with a specific mention that this was a 40th anniversary dinner. I requested a romantic location in the restaurant and hoped (but didn't request) maybe some acknowledgement by the restaurant. Nothing provided. Oh, well, maybe I should have been more explicit.
Still, this is a very nice restaurant particularly for special occasions. We live just a few miles away, so we'll be back. Maybe we'll order a bottle next time!
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