The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

The elegant pleasure of dinner and wine

The weight of the world can put a dent on the shoulders of the best of us. Every once in while, all of us need to pause and place pleasure first on our to-do list. Not just any everyday pleasure but one steeped in history, wine and food.  Did I see a few agreeable nods from the column’s faithful?  Of course now I have to come up with a place that can deliver the goods, and I can. It’s The Vintage Steak House in San Juan Capistrano. 
At the Capistrano Train Depot, built in 1894 in the busiest part of downtown, a fully restored 1927 Pullman train car sits in regal elegance, transforming the diner back in time.
The owners, Byron Gemmell who is the executive chef, and Mathew Timmes who handles administration and bookings, put together this authentic, historic landmark that serves 240 inside. A caboose will extend the length of the restaurant and will be a private enclave of up to 15 diners. There is patio dining and live smooth Jazz Thursday through Saturday nights. 
The real test of pleasure is the specialty steaks and carefully selected wines. From Filet Mignon to Rib Eye, the beef is open fire mesquite grilled, dry aged to perfection and hand-cut, enhanced with locally grown vegetables. A wide variety of chops and fish complete the entrees. 
The wine list is superior. All the major world varietals are represented with names that will satisfy all palates. From champagnes to hillside Italian legends like Brunellos, Barbarescos and Amarones, they are all there … some 300 selections to fit all budgets.  On this occasion we opened a 1995 Pendroncelli Cabernet from Sonoma. Its striking aged taste blended beautifully with the steak selections presented.
The romance of The Vintage Steak House takes the diner to another time and place, with an intimate ambience showcasing hand-crafted cuisine. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily from 8 a.m. Sunday brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (949) 661-3400 or visit for more information.
‘Bling’ events on tap from fast forward
Oh baby is the bar going to be raised for unparalleled events in San Diego by the fast-moving Fast Forward Event Productions.  They are the people that have given us the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival for the past six years, easily the ultimate event experience for 10,000-plus wine and food enthusiasts. 
The announcement just came in that the new dates will be Nov. 17 through Nov. 21 and tickets are on sale June 15. Superstars from the world of winemaking and foodie-favorite chefs will compile an unforgettable series of events, capped by a Grand Tasting Saturday Nov. 20. It’s expected that 70 of San Diego’s top restaurants and just more than 30 gourmet food companies will be there. The smart people will buy their tickets right after the June 15 at or by calling (619) 342-7337.
Fast Forward also announced the launching of The Gourmet Experience, a food, luxury and lifestyle showcase that features the best in gourmet products and services according to Michelle Metter, partner in Fast Forward Event Productions. The date is set for Oct. 9 and Oct. 10 of this year in San Diego. Guests will experience tasting the newest gourmet foods, home entertainment products, kitchen equipment, planning dinner parties, new trendy casual and fine dining products, culinary tips, new destinations, resorts and hotels, sipping luxury wines, spirits and craft beer and large appliance packages, to name a few.  For the latest news on The Gourmet Experience,
go to www.thegourmetexpo. com.
Wine Bytes
— A Day In Tuscany is the theme for the San Antonio Winery downtown Los Angeles from 1 to 4 p.m. June 12. The wines and cuisine, including a four-course lunch, will be served for $64 per person. Call (323) 221-7261 for more information.
 — The San Diego County Vintners will hold their annual Barrel Tasting from noon to 5 p.m. June 12 at the Menghini Winery in Julian. Entertainment included for $45. For more information, call (760) 765-2072.
— Another Drink Yourself Blind competition is being staged at Bacchus Wine Market from 2 to 9 p.m. June 12. Eight wines will be “brown-bagged” for your educated guess.  The fee is $15. For more information, call (619) 236-0005.
— A Kiame Wine Dinner will be held at Baci Restaurant in San Diego from 6:45 to 9 p.m. June 14. A five-course dinner will be served with paired Kiame wines. RSVP at (619) 275-2094.