The first time I strolled into Fiddlehead Café, I was planning to meet a friend who decided to be 30 minutes late.
No matter. I struck up a conversation with a friendly and conveniently attractive bartender, who recommended several red wines to me and offered me tastes of each.
He was attentive until my friend arrived and knew to step back and let us catch up after we were together.
Since then, Fiddlehead — and, somewhat sadly, the staff — has become a good friend of mine. Just down the street, and there's always someone there I can chat with and get a good wine recommendation from.
It could be my Cheers, and I've got dibs on Carla's attitude.
In a moment of sheer brilliance on the sommelier's part, the wine list features a series of icons next to the name of every wine; a key at the bottom details what the icon means — whether the wine is earthy, has berry notes, is spicy or full-bodied, etc. It makes the selection feel more approachable, and it helps you pinpoint the flavors you're looking for when picking out a glass. At so many other restaurants, all you get is a varietal, a vineyard and a vintage.
Here, they have love for the grapey greenhorns!
Where food is concerned, I'm actually much less of a connoisseur.
The cheese selection, much like the wine selection, is extensive but not overwhelming. Three cheeses of your choosing for $11 — or a predetermined "flight" for as low as $9 — is a great deal, served with raisin bread, candied walnuts and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples. My top picks are the three-year cheddar, sharp but not overpowering; Nancy's camembert, smooth and creamy; and Valdeon, a blue that I'm sure many don't like, but I'm not one of them.
I'm not sure Fiddlehead will ever become a dining destination for me, but after one particularly long (25-mile) bike ride, the Italian sausage fettuccine was filling, a bit greasy and perfect for what I needed.
Fiddlehead is classy and upscale without feeling snooty. I might even call it approachable. If you go, look for the tall girl bellied up to the bar with a glass of sparkling rosé — on a humid day, you'll even get the Carla-style frizzy hair.