Spilling Optional

Spill the Wine comes to Downtown East

As the last days of March went out like a lamb, Katie Milburn and her fiancé Karl Greeman were putting the final touches on their new restaurant and wine bar, Spill the Wine, in the 124-year-old Day Block building at 1101 Washington Ave. S.

The restaurant opened during the first week of April and was soon bustling with customers. Above their heads hangs vintage signage from Frank Plumbing, which moved from the building in 2005 to 721 SE Second St. after 60 years in the Washington Ave. location. New Day Block owner Jeff Hahn is nearly done restoring the Day Block building, which now houses his web development company, Internet Exposure.

Spill the Wine takes its name from a song by Eric Burdon & War, according to Milburn, who co-owns the eatery with Greeman. Both are veterans of the restaurant industry, having served as general managers at Bar Abilene in Uptown and Tejas Restaurant in Edina, respectively.

On the ground floor, Spill the Wine includes a lounge area and 400-square-foot wine boutique with more than 100 international wines. The dining room is on the second floor, with a “tasting bar” for sampling select wines, a regular service bar and the restaurant’s open kitchen. Artworks from artists of the nearby Rosalux Gallery collective, 1011 Washington Ave. S., hang on the walls.

Exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, original tin ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows lend a “natural feeling” to the establishment’s low lighting, said Milburn. “Our focus is on casual dining,” she said.

Inspiration for Milburn and Greeman’s concept resulted in part from their European travels last year, and Spill the Wine’s chef, George Vatafu, moved here from Romania less than a year ago.

The menu features handmade pizzas with fresh ingredients; garlic shrimp served with raspberry chili sauce; potato gnocchi with roasted chicken; gorgonzola cream with spinach and a marsala reduction; free-range pan-roasted chicken with Yukon potatoes; skillet-seared sea scallops; herb-encrusted pork chops; grilled-beef tenderloin; and soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas. Catering services are also available.

A 4–7 p.m. happy hour (Monday–Friday) features $3 tap beers, $15 bottles of select wine and $5 select appetizers.

Spill the Wine hopes to take full advantage of a built-in clientele from the up-and-coming condos, theater district and businesses within walking distance, said Milburn. “Part of what motivated us to choose this location is that we didn’t want to be in the middle of Downtown,” she said. “But we didn’t want to be in the suburbs either.”

For more information about Spill the Wine, call 612-339-3388 or check out www.spillthewine

last revised: April 25, 2007