If you’re in the Fremont area one afternoon and looking for a laid-back happy-hour spot after work, give The Vine a try.
The contemporary American eatery and bar in Fremont’s Niles Historic District has a great patio area that features a long, wooden bar, plenty of umbrella-covered tables and a fire pit to sit around and enjoy a drink with friends.With Motown and funk classics playing in the background, I felt like I was at a friend’s outdoor party on a recent night – very relaxing and inviting (check out The Vine’s patio area here).
The Vine prides itself on offering “fine food – not fine dining” and using local produce and sustainable meats. I was impressed by the reasonably-priced small plates (several under $10), like the Tempura Fried Green Beans and Clam Frites, and its extensive cocktail menu that incorporates a sweet potato spirit called soju.
Dish of Choice
Since I only had a bag of Fritos for lunch, I had a big appetite this past Wednesday night. So I ordered the Vine Burger, a patty made with Niman Ranch sausage and beef, dressed with aioli, arugula, grilled tomato and pepper jack on top of a ciabatta bun with a side salad. I added a side of garlic fries.
I also chose the Crab Cake, which came with a spread of roasted almond and red pepper aioli. For refreshments, I ordered the Mo-Beer-Jito, which was made with pilsner beer, soju, lemon and lime juice, crushed mint and agave nectar. The Guava Momma was mixed with sparkling wine, pomegranate molasses and an orange wedge on the rocks.
Altogether with tax, my bill came out to about $38.
The Vine Burger tasted like a burger you would get at a cookout. It had a good charring on the patty and bun; the patty was tender and had a smoky flavor, and the ciabatta bun was grilled on the bottom but still soft on top and in the middle.
The fries were at a nice halfway point between soft and crispy and lightly seasoned with garlic, and the salad had a light, zesty vinaigrette that didn’t weigh it down.
The crab cake was packed with fresh meat, and I liked the small slices of onions and peppers throughout the cake. I also enjoyed the thin, crisp breading (I hate when a crab cake is mostly breading with a smidge of crab).
The Mo-Beer-Jito was tart, citrusy and had a great helping of mint to make it that much more refreshing. The Guava Momma was effervescent and had a nice sprinkling of citrus fruit and strawberry slices. It was a refreshing girly drink without overdoing it on the sweetness.
Happy Hour at The Vine is from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, according to the restaurant’s website. Along with lunch and dinner, The Vine also offers Sunday brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I love brunch, and I am intrigued by the Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, made with salmon, scrambled eggs, creme fraiche, caper and red onion salsa and grilled garlic bread. I’ll make my way over one Sunday morning.
The Vine is located at 37533 Niles Boulevard in Fremont. For more information, call (510) 792-0112 or visit www.thevineinniles.com.