Last Saturday, Grape + Bean on South Royal Street, in Alexandria’s Old Town section, opened its door and welcomed customers. The beautiful town home space, owned by David Gwathmey and Sheera Rosenfeld, is now a now a shop for oenophiles, coffee enthusiasts and more. A sun-lit bar and counter area meets you as you enter, while breads, cheese and olives invite grazing. On the counter top, cured meats, Kingsbury Chocolates and fresh breads from Restaurant Eve are displayed in rustic baskets and echo the feel of the warm brick walls, beamed ceiling and wooden floors.
On the left side is a counter upon which sat a red and white wine, along with glasses for sampling. You can also sample coffee made with their Clover coffee machine- the first in the area. The Clover allows serious control over a serious cup of coffee. At Grape + Bean, they use Counter Culture coffee beans in their Clover. A coffee menu offers their selection of coffees to enjoy in or take home.
In the back of the store, wines are available with special attention paid to small producers and sparkling wines. Across the aisle is a large refrigerator which holds, among other things, chilled wines and cheeses such as Humboldt Fog and Rosso di Langa- a soft cow’s milk cheese from Italy, similar to Epoisse, but milder and more buttery. And to help you prepare and enjoy these comestibles in style, there are high quality supplies such as coffee presses, foamers, cheese boards, knives and stemware.
On our visit, Frank and I took turns handing off our dogs to one another as each of us went in to peruse through the shop and speak with the owners, both life long residents of Alexandria who are kind and enthusiastic and obviously support other local businesses around them. They hope to make Grape + Bean a neighborhood place to hang out to enjoy coffee or sip wine while sampling savory goodies. We really enjoyed their recommended wine and cheese pairing of Rosso di Langa cheese and D’Arenberg 2006 Viognier/Marsanne McLaren Vale The Hermit Crab, once at home. The white wine remained cold from their refrigerator, while the chill came off the cheese, allowing it to ooze and spread over rustic bread.
I’m so happy to see more and more quality independent businesses like Grape + Bean opening and filling a needed niche in Old Town. I believe the community will support them in their success.