Blueberry cobbler prepared by Chef Brian Griep at Gardina's. The blueberry filling was not too sweet or syrupy and was just plain delicious.
For those looking to try the wine bar scene, Gardina's Wine Bar and Cafe is a welcome respite for great food, wine and cheese.
As an added bonus, the back of the restaurant is home to McKnight & Carlson Wines. Both are owned and operated by Julie Wolk and her brother, John Carlson, who spends most of his time at McKnight & Carlson Wines in Appleton.
Wolk and Carlson felt a need to open a wine shop and created a unique location in The Brooklyn No. 4 Firehouse on Sixth Street. The siblings expanded their vision in 2010 when they opened Gardina's - the name was taken from their mother's maiden name - on North Main Street. They wanted to be part of the downtown community which was being redeveloped to be a more vibrant part of Oshkosh.
"The atmosphere can be anything you want it to be," Wolk said. "You can come to taste interesting wines from our extensive wine list or dine on an eclectic ever-changing menu."
Wolk and executive chef Brian Griep have created a diverse menu. If you're looking for a burger and fries - go elsewhere.
The appetizer was the pear brie and prosciutto crostini - a combination of sliced pears, triple-crème brie, sliced prosciutto, garnished with pine nuts and a honey drizzle. The combination was a marriage made in heaven; an amalgamation of sweet and savory to waken my palate for other fare to come.
Wolk asked if I was a shellfish lover, my answer was yes, so out of the kitchen came a special for the week - steamed Prince Edward Island mussels with roasted garlic, basil, green onions, and lemon butter sauce served with a French baguette. The serving was generous and the lemon butter sauce set this savory masterpiece apart.
Before I could put my fork down, a chicken and avocado pizza appeared. Griep must have known I have an ongoing love affair with pizza. The olive oil pastry type crust was crisp and light and topped with red onions, tomatoes, feta, parmesan cheese, sliced chicken and fresh avocado slices. This pizza was a welcome alternative from traditional red sauce recipes.
For a change of pace, Griep prepared sweet potato gnocchi combined with kalamata olives, butternut squash, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, parmesan cheese and brown butter. Combining the kalamata's and squash in a garlic sauce made for a scrumptious dish.
For the grand finale, Wolk brought out blueberry cobbler. The blueberry filling was not too sweet or syrupy and was just plain delicious.
You'll be impressed with the assortment of craft beers. Gardenia's has recently added 12 craft beers on tap from select breweries, including Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian India Pale Ale from Massachusetts.
This beer has great citrus fruit character without a hoppy bite. A Belgian yeast strain is used during fermentation.
Try Central Waters Lac du Bay, brewed by Central Waters in Amherst, Wis. Lac du Bay was produced years ago and has been brought back for a limited time. This IPA pours a hazy amber with notes of grapefruit, orange and toffee finishing with a hoppy bitterness.
Chocolate Bunny Stout, by Rhinelander Brewing Co. and Flying Dog Citra Single Hop Imperial IPA are also available.
Gardina's, along with McKnight & Carlson Wines, have one of the most complete wine selections around. If you are a "cork dork" or a casual wine drinker, Gardenia's fills the bill.
Wolk and Carlson have assembled a diverse selection of tempting delights and kept them reasonably priced.
Additionally, plenty of great wines and cheeses are available for sale in the store where you can buy a bottle of wine, a great cheese, and have a pleasant evening at home.
Gardina's is many things: a wine bar, a casual dining experience, a shopping adventure along with occasional entertainment on weekends.
It's where you can meet up with your friends as well as make new ones.
It doesn't matter if you are a culinary or wine aficionado, Julie and her staff want you to mingle, drink, laugh and indulge.
Gardina's Wine Bar & Cafe is located at 448 N. Main St., Oshkosh. Phone is (920) 231- 3516. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.