An ideal trip to the wine bar includes good companions, tasty eats and a wine menu that balances the familiar with the uncommon. While I can't speak for the company you keep, I can attest to Café Bleu's mastering of the other required elements.
The Mission Hills bistro and wine bar (807 W. Washington St.) is on the small side, which is actually ideal, as it never gets too loud or rowdy. Different nights of the week bring varying specials. My girlfriends and I chose a midweek night for wine flights (served Tuesday through Thursday, with beer flights also available). For less than $15, you can choose a flight of three tasters. Since there were three of us, and three flights to choose from, we each chose a different option.
I was mostly pleased with my European white flight with its greatly varying tastes. A Greek wine that I've never encountered before—the 2012 Malagouzia by Porto Carras—turned out to be my favorite. It held a wildly intoxicating scent of honeysuckle, and though I feared the sweet aroma would make for an overpowering flavor, I instead was treated to refreshing apple and apricot notes.
The other two weren't quite as appealing. The 2004 Vollrads Rheingau Riesling from Germany was too syrupy, and the 2010 Chartrons Trebuchet Chablis from Burgundy had too much oak.
But with my partners-in-wine at my table, it was easy to find lots that we liked, trading sips and picking our follow-up glasses accordingly. The 2010 Il Trullo Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, won a particularly positive verdict from all of us.
With so much wine to sample, we also had to nibble. Everything on the French-inspired menu looked delicious, but we settled on appetizers, including an artisan-cheese plate. We selected five cheeses from a menu of about 10 and were not disappointed. Spanish Manchego was one of our favorites, with or without the wine.
In addition to the interesting selections of food and wine, the attentive staff meets your needs without breathing down your neck, allowing you to leisurely explore for an hour or five.