AT THE BAR Shariat
At Mez, this ahi tuna on ginger/lemongrass
French toast from executive chef Anoosh
Shariat is paired with a white Riesling by
Brad Byrd, food and wine director.
When chefs and sommeliers collaborate, the result
is some notable food-and-wine matches.
By Suzanne Hall
TUNA on French toast with Riesling.
Baby octopus and Greek salad with
Pinot Noir. Unusual? Perhaps. Delicious?
Absolutely. And these are just two of the
pairs recommended when we asked chefs
and their sommeliers to match signature
dishes with wine-list favorites.
($12). “The dish plays tricks on your mind,
and is the kind of thing we like to do,” says
Anoosh Shariat, executive chef.
RIESLING AND TUNA
Mez in Charlotte, N.C., is not your typical
restaurant. The main dining room and
intimate bar have a supper-club feel. The
owners also run the adjacent movie theater,
and guests can choose to eat in the dining
room or take their food to the movies. Don’t
look for hot dogs and popcorn, though.
Instead, the kitchen serves up entrées
such as miso-infused black cod and cold-
smoked pork chops. Pistachio-crusted
goat cheese is a small-plate offering, so
is seared ahi tuna on ginger/lemongrass
French toast with citrus honey and chili oil
The French toast is made from a ginger/
lemongrass-infused egg bread, such as
challah or brioche. It is topped with seared
rare tuna and served with a honey/lemon
sauce. A few drops of red chile sauce
garnish the plate for accent. “It’s a sweet-
and-sour dish,” Shariat says.
Byrd says. “With this particular dish, I like
the Riesling. It has some apple and apricot
and a little sweetness that pairs well with
the dish. It’s not over-the-top, though. It’s
an off-dry wine.”
“But not really sweet,” adds Brad Byrd, Mez’s
food and wine director. He maintains a
300-bottle international wine list, offers about
50 wines by the glass and tends to look for
boutique selections. To pair with the tuna dish,
he selected the 2009 J. Lohr Monterey White
Riesling (glass, $8, bottle, $32).
PINOT NOIR AND BABY OCTOPUS
Scott Clime did select a Pinot Noir for our
pairing quest. The beverage and wine director
of Washington, D.C.-based Passion Food
Hospitality chose the 2007 Andrew Rich
Cuvee B Willamette Valley, Oregon, Pinot Noir
(glass, $16, bottle, $64) to accompany Grilled
Baby Octopus with Greek Salad, Warm
Halloumi Cheese and Tzatziki ($12). The
starter was created by his brother Chris Clime,
chef de cuisine at PassionFish, a Passion
Food Hospitality restaurant in Reston, Va.
“Tuna normally is paired with Pinot Noir,
but goes with either red or white wines,”
The dish begins with a whole 1-1¼ lb.
octopus poached at a slow bubble for 1 hour,
45 minutes, in red wine and herbs. Then the