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Friday, January 25, 2008

Restaurant of the Weekend: ThornCreek Winery, in Aurora

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 6:51 AM

Every week, Scene food critic Elaine Cicora assesses the upcoming weekend and picks one restaurant she thinks best fits the bill. This week: ThornCreek Winery, in Aurora. We still have fond, circa-1985 memories of 99-cent spaghetti night at the old Dankorona Winery in Aurora, a bare-bones spot with all the upscale elegance of cousin Vinnie’s jail cell. So imagine our surprise last Friday night when we dropped by Dankorona’s former digs, only to find the magnificent ThornCreek Winery in its place. Thanks to new owner and landscape designer David Thorn, the property has been transformed over the past 15 months into one of the most lively, lovely, and beautifully appointed wine bars this side of Napa Valley, and a prime destination for weekend unwinding. ... From its stucco’d walls to its beamed ceilings, from the candlelight to the crackling fire, every inch of this space oozes rustic, Wine-Country charm. And should a guest somehow get her fill of gawking at the artful interior, a handsome terrace and acres of romantic gardens wait just beyond the big French doors, shimmering even in winter with strand upon strand of sparkling lights. Admittedly, the pretty label by artist Lisa Eastman was our favorite part of a $24.99 bottle of ThornCreek Cabernet Sauvignon, a remarkably raw-tasting wine made with juice that Thorn trucks in from Napa Valley. Still, it was just too cold outside to settle for whites; eventually, we discovered a somewhat more palatable Merlot ($16.99) to accompany our noshing. Here, however, Thorn and his staff excel, offering extremely well executed versions of the usual wine-bar tidbits: massive artisanal cheese boards ($19.95), savory olive samplers ($12.50), plump focaccia pizzas ($11.25), and spinach & artichoke dips ($9.95) among other simple options, all amply sized for sharing. Next time, we’ll save room for dessert, too, such sweet possibilities as warm chocolate cake ($7.95), or gelato-filled ice-cream sandwiches ($5.95). Tasting room hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, and noon to midnight Saturday, with live musical entertainment beginning at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Got a big posse? Reservations are accepted for parties of 20 or more. ThornCreek Winery is at 155 Treat Rd., in Aurora; 330-562-9245. Visit www.thorncreekwinery.com for directions, photos, an entertainment schedule, and the full winter menu. Then kick back, relax, and enjoy the weekend in style. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.
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