IQ Wine Bar Boutique, a bar-cum-wine store nestled unexpectedly in a business park, lays its cards on the table from the outset. Empty bottles proudly line the windowsills, grapevines are stenciled on the walls, Cabernets perch atop dainty shelves. All of this sends a clear message: Our business is wine, and we take it seriously.
“Our staff is ready to recommend wine for any dish!” assures the menu. Despite its rather heavy-handed decor, this self-proclaimed “intelligent shop & bar” provides a pleasant ambiance for couples and groups seeking a bite or sip in a place that seems to care about wine.
There is plenty to eat as well. IQ serves primarily Mediterranean fare, like antipasti (280 rubles/$5) and crab gazpacho (280 rubles), but also gravlax (390 rubles), escargot (400 rubles), Moroccan harira (300 rubles) and assorted cheeses (400 rubles). Bruschetta and budget-friendly bites run for 190 rubles a pop.
The tapas plate (380 rubles) is always a good introduction to the kitchen’s range, and this one includes a rare treat: cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates. We also opted to try the bruschetta with muksun, a Siberian whitefish.
Inspired by the menu’s enthusiastic declaration, we requested the waitress recommend a dry red to start off with. Startlingly, she admitted little mastery of the subject and scurried away, presumably seeking reinforcements. She eventually reemerged with Barefoot Zinfandel, a bottom-shelf wine I had become familiar with during my university years, sold here for a steep 1,500 rubles ($26.50) a bottle.
I was confused: Where was this sommelier whose expertise the menu heralded? After some probing, we learned: “He’s gone.” At least this Monday, the work shift had ended before dinner time, leaving the staff ill-equipped in drinking matters.