A winemaker, farmer, and a designer walk into a bar …
Well, actually, they built the bar. Namely, Checkered Past Winery, the newly opened urban winery nestled into a basement in South Side on Lamar in the booming Cedars neighborhood. Partners Scott Relyea (founder and designer), Sandro DiSanto (winemaker), and Carolynne Chancellor (vineyard owner and farmer) came together in 2008 to dream up this Texas-centric “wine pub”, and their plan … succeeded.
Housed in the formerly dimly lit Absinthe Lounge location, the space is nearly unrecognizable–light, galvanized metal, and vespas fill Checkered Past now. Who knew the space even had windows?
So … let’s talk wine now, y’all. Checkered Past stocks wines from “their friends”–wines from other wineries around Texas that the staff loves, and from the rest of the world. (Because it’s Texas vs. the rest of the world, right?) They have bottles, glasses, and even draft wines available along with local beers.
They don’t stop there. They’re making their own wine with two currently available and three more promised before the end of 2016. (Bring it, Sandro.)
Even better than just having a damn good (local) wine list, the food at Checkered Past is perty good. Sandro a first-generation American from his Sicilian family, and the menu reflects that. Simple, but delicious, the items on the menu were carefully crafted using local ingredients when possible, but they won’t compromise quality for the sake of staying local. Not to be missed: their flatbreads, namely Rudi’s Double Meat (made with meats hand-picked from the best purveyors available and no sauce — novel), the Goat Cheese Pappadew Skewers, the Smoked Salmon & Herb Goat Cheese Bruschetta (I detest smoked salmon and ate one of these … and enjoyed it), and the Kalamata Tapenade (because sometimes the most delicious things are the simplest).
To make me love this place even more … they don’t f**k around with their post-meal goodies. I’m talking about their pairing of dessert wines with their gluten-free Warm Double Chocolate Cake. Even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines, let them make some recommendations–my favorite was the Jacquez Maderia from Haak Winery in Galveston. You may become a believer yet.
Stop by Checkered Past for some good local wine, good eats, and ska music. I mean, at least stop in to see what the innards of Absinthe Lounge really looked like.
Free parking can be found on the far west end of Belleview, the street that Checkered Past faces. You’re welcome.
Side note: the lovely Pizza & Champagne sisters and I will be hosting a “singles night” on 2/12/16 at Checkered Past! Stay tuned for more details coming soon! (All are welcome, taken or not!)
***Checkered Past treated me and a couple buddies to an evening of trying out their wines and food. And I got a neat t-shirt. I love t-shirts. Check out my Snapchat to see it! (@susieosz)***