A temperature-controlled wine room holding 3,000 bottles is generally a dead giveaway of a restaurant’s main focus.
In the case of Urban Wren, which dropped winery from its name before its opening in Greenville’s West End in March, wine is certainly the inspiration for the space and the culinary direction. But the owners and leadership team are adamant that their new concept is for everyone, not only the oenophile.
“We have plenty of cocktails and food for the regular Joe,” says executive chef Taylor Montgomery. “We don’t want to be considered a pretentious wine environment.” Montgomery’s menu is globally inspired, taking a variety of cultural cuisines and creating dishes that combine Eastern and Western elements in one dish. For instance, take a tour of Italian, French, and Japanese ingredients and techniques in one small plate of savory brussels with hakurei turnips, a poached farm egg, Maltaise, and beet agrodolce. The menu’s other small plates and entrée-size dishes, all designed to share, follow suit, while also incorporating as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.
For co-owner Nick Lincoln, this passion project began with a love for wine but quickly evolved into a distinctly Greenville restaurant with a special awareness of the location—in the adaptive reuse project Markley Station, two blocks from Fluor Field and in the middle of an increasingly walkable residential area. “Wine and food pairing can be intimidating,” Lincoln says. “We want to be a place where you can wear jeans and a T-shirt.”
The expansive central bar provides a visual anchor for the L-shaped dining area. Beyond it to the right are the fermentation tanks and barrels that will eventually hold wine produced on-site from grapes sourced domestically. The glass-enclosed wine cellar provides a glow that can be seen from the far end of the dining area. A cozy sitting area complete with fireplace is tucked in the back left corner. Upstairs is an event space that can comfortably accommodate 160 guests.
An eight-seat chef’s table with a direct view into the kitchen sits directly behind the bar. A prix fixe, six-course tasting menu is available nightly, with the added benefit of specialized attention from Chef Montgomery and his team and general manager Eric Cooperman, an advanced sommelier who is focused on educating his staff to provide a high level of hospitality.
With 45 wines by the glass and hundreds more to choose from by the bottle, Cooperman is looking to set the local standard for both variety and educated service. “We want to be one of those building blocks and help Greenville to that next level,” Cooperman says. “Let this be the playground for Greenville to explore the world of wine.”
For more, go to urbanwrenwinery.com.
Photograph by Rebecca Lehde