By Jena Ardell
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By Alan Scherstuhl
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The viral spread of Smith Street bars and restaurants over the past few years has been quick and relentless. It would seem to include at least one establishment for every tastebe it unassuming Irish pub, skeevy dive, sports bar, or posh lounge. Apparently, though, the female segment of the population has been neglected, and the owners of Black Mountain Wine House ( 415 Union Street, Brooklyn) have shrewdly recognized that niche. On a recent night, the spacewhich opened a little over a month agowas filled with women (alone, in pairs, as well as in larger groups-), with a few token guys scattered about for decoration. Personal challenge: Avoid any Sex and the City references for the next 300 words.
The proprietors have wisely chosen a spot off the neighborhood's heavily trafficked main drag, going instead for something quieter, with the illusion of an undiscovered oasis. Whitewashed walls are lined with shelves bearing wine bottles, and the room is filled with tables and chairs of the intentionally mismatched variety.
The placid surroundings belie what the place is really like. During a Monday-night visit, the chatter grew increasingly animated as people kept pouring in. At the bar, two girlfriends discussed their embarrassment at being adult fans of the Harry Potter series: "It's like joining a cult!" one exclaimed. The owner introduced himself as Jimmy and seemed to spend as much time chatting up the customers as he did overseeing the diminutive kitchen area. Not that anyone mindedsome of the patrons fairly basked in his flirtatious attention. Luckily, the bartender was able to patiently help the uninitiated through the wine list. Starting out with the wine recommendations from the manager, Shane, we tried a Greek white and Moroccan red (both $6.50) while looking over the short but smartly conceived menu of salads, cheeses, sandwiches, and the like ($4 to $10). While the focus is squarely on the vino, there is a small rotating selection of beers like Chimay, Duvel, Bass, and Delirium Tremens ($5 to $15). One night, a server in an "Ithaca Is Gorges" T-shirt was so pumped about a special cider from his hometown that we had to try it. It was everything we always want in cider but can never finddry, the faintest bit sweet, and strong as shit. Ask about it.
After eating, we moved to one of the coveted outdoor seating spots in the front. Outside, we came across something that seemed strange: two dudes in this sea of ladies. They had fled the oppressive rules of another nearby outdoor watering hole that had denied them the chance to light up. They sat knocking back bottles of Blue Point ($5), complaining about some asshole they had to work with, and happily puffing away. With the odds stacked so heavily female-to-male in their favor, it was unlikely they'd be talking about work for too long.