For those in the know, a quiet stretch of highway between Marietta and Devola has long been home to some of the best dining in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The House of Wines, a combination restaurant and retail space specializing in craft beer, cigars and, of course, wine, was purchased by Chef/owner Sally Oliver in June of 2012. Oliver, a Marietta native, is a classically trained chef who returned home after studying at the New England Culinary Institute and spending some time cooking in Boston. “I wanted to do my own food,” Oliver said.
In the years since purchasing the space, Oliver has seen the community embrace her French-inspired menus and casual, relaxed setting. One of the things Oliver is most proud of is that the business’s shopping + dining combination allows diners to shop for their wine pairings before their meal, and then enjoy them at the table for a retail price. “There’s no markup and no corkage fee,” she said.
As in previous years, the House of Wines will once again be participating in MOV Restaurant Week, which takes place between February 24th – 29th. A supporter of the event from the beginning, Chef Oliver said she likes to see big city food trends making their way into our small community. Plus, she said, “three-course prix fixe menus is how I was taught. It goes back to my training.”
Unlike some area restaurants, which offer dessert, the House of Wines has opted for a more traditional three-course menu of soup or salad, appetizer, and entree. Options from this year’s menus include a carrot curry bisque, salmon cake with lemon aioli, and “surf and turf” with grilled flat iron steak and shrimp.
The Chef said she’s most excited to offer burrata, an Italian soft cheese (think Mozzarella with a creamy center) served with sauteed mushrooms, arugula, and truffle oil. As with all MOV Restaurant Week participants, the special menus will be available for $30, plus tax (where applicable) and tip. Additionally, the House of Wines will be offering wine pairings with their dinners for an extra $12.
The popularity of the House of Wines (and their delivery service, available within city limits) has led Chef Oliver to recently branch out into fully prepared “grab and go” meals. Inspired by home delivery meal kit services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, the Chef takes the concept one step further by preparing the full meals and then portioning them into individual vacuum-sealed bags. Customers can purchase the meals from a cooler in the wine shop for a flat rate of $15. Once home, the bags need only be placed into a pot of boiling water for six minutes and voila! Hot, chef-prepared food at home.
Options include salmon, statler chicken breast, or flat iron steak (cooked by Oliver to a perfect medium-rare). Though the sides may change, Oliver says that the same three proteins will always be available. In the few short weeks since the to-go meals were introduced, Oliver says she’s had nothing but positive feedback, even selling out on several occasions. Extra stock has been donated to a local fire house. Customers who wish to save their meals for later are provided with both an expiration date and a “freeze by” date.
“If you can boil water, you can do this,” she said. “You can’t mess it up!”