In a fast-food land of heaping piles of french fries, 32-ounce soda buckets and extra large pizza slices, it's nice to find a place where you can eat small and eat slow. At the Salt Creek Wine Bar, you can do just that. On a recent Friday night, I traveled to Brookfield in anticipation of a nice meal at the wine bar, and got just what I was hoping for: several small plates to be enjoyed over a good glass of wine – in my case, sangria.
Located just off the Brookfield train station near the corner of Grand Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, the Salt Creek Wine Bar has been a staple of the town's restaurant community for many years.
The atmosphere inside is relaxed and comfortable: filled with plenty of tables, a long bar and a performance area. Work by local visual artists is displayed on the walls, and music plays quietly in the background.
My dining companion and I arrived around 6 p.m., and momentarily were surprised to be the only ones in the restaurant. However, other diners slowly trickled in, and the place was filling quickly by the time we left around 8:30 p.m.
I suspect the reason for the later rush was a young woman with a guitar who was setting up in a corner as we departed. I wish I had stayed on for the music, as it's a standard feature of the wine bar, with local acts playing everything from folk to jazz.
The live music is a big draw, I've been told, and it pairs perfectly with the ambiance, food and drink.
Because it's a wine bar, wine is definitely the focus here. If you're not a wine fan, there's still a good beer and cocktail list, but with so many options and a knowledgeable staff, anyone should be able to find a wine they like – or several to try in a flight.
The food complements the wine, too. We enjoyed a fantastic cheese flight that came with crackers and bread to whet our appetite as we sipped sangria. The cheese flight allows you to pick three off a menu featuring eight. Even though we opted for cheese, there was no shortage of similar small plates, such as bacon-wrapped dates, salads, seafood and a variety of olive dishes we could have picked instead.
The entree plates were delicious and filling. At Salt Creek Wine Bar, small doesn't mean tiny, it means reasonable. We split a shrimp po' boy and a pasta with pesto and crispy salami. It was ample food to eat there, but there was none left to take home.
And, honestly, I'm OK with that. Salt Creek Wine Bar should be a destination where you go to sit a while, enjoy a good meal and conversation, and not worry about bringing home a doggie bag. You're there to take it in, eat leisurely and enjoy the overall experience.
I absolutely enjoyed my experience and plan to return soon. With a menu of tapas pizza, creative sandwiches and small plates made for sharing, there's plenty still to try. When I return, I'll check the musical offering first, and bring as many friends as I can get to accompany me.
Good food is good, but good food accompanied by good friends, good music and good conversation is something more – it's a feast.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.
___Salt Creek Wine Bar
WHERE: 8900 Fairview Ave., Brookfield
HOURS: Daily from 4 p.m.; kitchen open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. Sunday
DRESS CODE: Casual
INFO: www.saltcreekwinebar.com, 708-387-2432