First Taste: The Living Room Wine Cafe & Lounge

The Living Room

The Living Room may seem like an odd name for an eating and drinking establishment, but it’s an accurate description of the new wine café that just opened in Chandler’s Ocotillo neighborhood.

Comfortable sofas and chairs are scattered throughout the space, along with coffee tables, end tables, area rugs, lamps and plants. Board games are stacked in cupboards. A stereo is playing.

Sitting with a group of friends at The Living Room really is like sitting with a group of friends in a living room. Unless you’re sitting on one of The Living Room’s cozy patios, in which case it’s like … well, you get the idea.

The Living RoomAnd that’s the concept of a wine café — a more casual, more affordable, more approachable version of a wine bar. Think wine bar meets neighborhood pub. Or wine bar meets your living room.

The Living Room, which opened Dec. 30 in a shopping development known as Downtown Ocotillo, is the brainchild of the same group behind Scottsdale’s Humble Pie pizzeria and just-opened 5th & Wine.

A small Italian menu offers a selection of nosh-able treats perfect for pairing with a glass of vino.

Bruschetta (pictured below) is the star. There are eight varieties to choose from; you get four for $7.95.

The Living RoomThere’s tomato, mozzarella and basil for traditionalists. Carnivores probably will enjoy the peppercorn-crusted steak with a dollop of creamy horseradish.

For a touch of sweetness, try the prosciutto, fig and mascarpone. For a lot of sweetness, go with the Brie, apple and fig jam drizzled with honey and agave nectar.

You even can get hummus or, my favorite, chicken salad on your bruschetta.

Antipasto and cheese plates (both $9.95) feature artisan selections that aren’t, well, too artisan.

For example, cheese choices (you pick three) are Brie, mozzarella, white cheddar, Granada, cambozola and goat cheese. Nice choices all, but nothing too out of the mainstream.

The Living RoomThe rest of the menu is just five salads and seven sandwiches.

Of the former, I love the strawberry and Gorgonzola ($8.95), which comes with lots of sliced fruit and tiny crumbs of salty cheese in a lip-smacking balsamic vinaigrette.

Among the latter, I adore the ham and cheese ($8.95), made with Italian coppa ham, burrata, roasted red pepper, arugula and a lemon vinaigrette.

Desserts, I’m told, are coming soon.

Twenty wines are available by the glass from $6 to $10, and all are just $5 before 6 p.m. daily — a great deal, especially when The Living Room begins opening at 11 a.m. daily later this month.

There are eight specialty cocktails ($8), such as pomegranate martinis and black cherry Manhattans, and more on the way.

Five beers are on tap — including Pabst Blue Ribbon for just $2 all the time — and another eight beers are available by the bottle.

The Living Room Wine Café & Lounge
Where: 2475 W. Queen Creek Road, Chandler (between Dobson and Price roads)
Open: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily (lunch hours will start later this month)
Prices: Appetizers $3.95-$9.95, bruschetta $7.95, salads $5.95-$9.95, sandwiches $6.95-$8.95.
Info: (480) 855-2848 or livingroomwinebar.com.

Photos by Tom Boggan, East Valley Tribune

First Taste reviews are based on initial visits to new East Valley restaurants. Full reviews only are written after a restaurant has been open at least a couple of months.

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