Alias With Some Eyrie

So my wife and decided to head into Brooklyn to hit up a BYOB this week. After some discussion our hunger fell upon Alia; a sleek, modern style restaurant serving Egyptian fare located on the infamous North 6th between Bedford and Berry Ave. The interior design of this place is pretty wild so let me break it down for you. There are two rooms. Upon entering you are in the front dinning room, which is more of a café styl-ee. It was early so there were only a few tables full and the colors were nice and rusty bronze walls with calm lighting and a view of the kitchen. Against the wall to the right were two jazz guitarists mellowing out the scene with their smooth harmonies (nice and poetic Keith). All this changed as you walked toward the back room. How can I say this: Darkly lit, sexy, hookah den with a water wall, a bar, nine or ten tables on the dinning room floor and beds lining the wall with pillows and tables in the middle for snacking or setting a hookah on as well as beaded curtains draping across the front tied to the sides. There is also a huge flat-screen TV high on the wall playing Egyptian Soap operas on mute. We opted for a table because we had had a hell of a week and felt that the threat of falling asleep in mid chew would be inevitable if we had pillows.

Before I get into the rest of this I must mention the fact that in the back room there was a sound system playing Egyptian pop which was cool but the problem was that you can still hear the guitarists in the front room and before your brain tunes it out (and it’s not that bad) you kind of have this cacophonous right ear jazzy left ear clubby feeling. It’s not the end of the world and the jazz guys eventually finished their set but it would have been cool to hear one or the other. I am a musician and when gigs happen (“when,” being the key word here) you kind of want everyone in the joint to take in what you’re giving. Maybe if someone reading this lives in Billy burg or checks this place out after this post maybe put in a suggestion to kill the sound system while the guys are vibin’ or maybe even put their ticklin’ through the back speakers. Any way back to what really matters: BYOB.

The wine for this adventure was a 2005 Dundee Hills Estate Grown Pinot Gris from Eyrie Vineyards in Oregon. A couple posts ago in The Pour, Eric Asimov’s wine blog- were he gets to wax on and off about whatever is going on in his head instead of the deadline thing- talked of the aging power of this producer’s Pinot Noir. I haven’t had a vintage Eyrie Pinot Noir but they are marvelous wines. The price point can go above the thirty-dollar mark so for now we don’t have any of them. But knowing the quality of this producer we had to at least get the Pinot Gris and man is it delish! (By the way we do have another great Pinot producer in the shop at twenty bucks called Montinore that is just as beautiful and totally worth the bills).

The menu here is nice and extensive with a lot of options for meat eaters, flexatarians, vegetarians, vegans, and beyond. With this in mind we decided to order a veggie dish and a meat dish. Before we ordered our food the server popped our bottle for us and poured the wine into…wait for it…stemware! Yes, Alia has stemware. This is not often the case in BYOBs although I am seeing a change slowly but surely as wine becomes more and more popular.

We swirled. We sniffed. The nose is wonderful and inviting. The Letts, owners of Eyrie Vineyards interfere as little as possible from vine to glass by using no irrigation as well as no herbicides or pesticides. I don’t think they are organically certified but this is meaning less and less. A lot of producers are practicing organic and biodynamic farming but not wanting to go through the rigorous red tape involved in getting that expensive little stamp of approval from the USDA. Props do need to go out though to those that are going through the process. Their heads are also in the right place. The nose is Deep, earthy tropical fruits with hints of pear running around your senses. Now, the idea that organic wine can taste unique from other wine is a bit of a controversial subject but I swear I got the, “100% not messed around with,” feel from this one.

We swirled. We sipped. Upon sipping I realized what the earthiness was. I think this wine was left on the lees for a bit to extract more complexity. The palate was well rounded with great acidity dancing through the glass and keeping the wine lively. The mouth feel was comfy and welcoming with those deep tropical fruits and pear continuing to the palate. There is no oak on this wine and it was all stainless steel all the time.

For the appetizer my wife and I shared the combo for two with falafel, stuffed grape leaves and three dips: a tahini concoction, hummus and babaganoush. The wine was damn near perfect with this dish and the falafel was excellent. I like my falafel moist and a bit salty and that was what I got. The wine paired with all the dipping sauces washing it all down while adding to the experience. As you can see from the photo above we devoured it.

For entrees my wife got the veggie couscous with sautéed cabbage, carrots, broccoli and almonds. I went for a poultry dish of Chicken kabob with a zucchini tomato sauce, yogurt-dill sauce and rice. As far as my dish went the sauces were classic and flavorful. The rice was well cooked and the chicken well charred. The only draw back was that the chicken was also a bit dry. A moist chicken kabob that melts in your mouth is something to remember but this one needed some work. No big deal though the complexity of the Pinot Gris (now warming up a little and showing its true earthy, aromatic colors) washed it down wonderfully actually adding that element to the chicken I was missing. My wife’s dish was downright wonderful. The sweetness of the almonds mixed with the flavors of the vegetable and rice was approachable and delicious. I tasted her dish while silently wishing I had ordered what she had. The wine paired perfectly with the mélange enhancing the flavors and complimenting the sweetness.

I can’t speak enough about Eyrie Vineyards’ Pinot Gris. It is almost perfectly balanced and has all the depth, minerality and flavor of a very well put together wine. As we poured our last glass and chin chin’d, it was sad to see it go but oh so good. At eighteen bucks this bottle is totally worth the cost. It’s just under twenty bucks but I promise you will not be disappointed

As for Alias I would definitely go back. I would totally do a veggie dish or maybe try the lamb and see how that goes. Lamb cooks in its own fat so it’s kind of hard to mess up. All in all it was a great experience and I hope you guys get a chance to check it out. Until the next episode. Cheers.


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