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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vine: Fruit of their labor

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Sometimes on "Project Runway," fashion guru Tim Gunn approaches one of the show's designers, and after a dramatic appraisal of his or her garment he says, "You know, I think you need to bring an editing eye to this." I'll admit, reality TV isn't the most reliable of cultural references, but I'm sure you get the idea. Frequently, when people undertake an artistic endeavor, the artistry runs rampant, and the artist is unable to see that none of his ideas are discernible among the clutter.

That's the experience I've had most recently at Vine, the Virginia-Highland restaurant that's changed ownership three times in the past four years. The current owner is Stephen McGuffin, the former chef de cuisine at Virginia-Highland's Dish. He left to work in Nashville, but returned to Atlanta with the intention of purchasing Dish when it went out of business. When that deal fell through, he turned his attention to Vine, and with some family backing, the restaurant became chef-owned.

Vine's always been something of a conundrum – it's a fantastic space, and it sits smack in the middle of Virginia-Highland. Parking is easy, the patio is sprawling, and the local residents live in million-dollar houses. A wine-focused New American bistro seems like the perfect concept for the location. But it's as if the kitchen has a curse on it – the food has never lived up to the setting. I ate at Vine once last year and it was so bad, so poorly executed, I decided not to write about it. Not because I'm squeamish about that kind of thing, but because I figured it would only be a matter of time before someone else took over.

Read the rest of this review here.

(Photo by James Camp)

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