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New wine bar serves charm and chardonnay

Fluid - Debbie Woelky, left, and Maria Jirak have a discussion with friends over a glass of wine yesterday evening at Fluid, a restaurant on the northeast corner of Ina Rd. and N. Oracle Rd. Jirak said, "We do enjoy it. It's a very nice atmosphere."
By Laura Wilson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 7, 2005
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Every once in a while it's nice to pretend to be an adult. It's so easy to get wrapped up in life within the two-mile radius surrounding the university that sometimes I forget that there exists a big city speckled with restaurants that don't have random knick-knacks littering the walls. I know it's hard to imagine, but outside of our collegebased metropolis lay several reasons for skipping paper-wrapped hamburgers and saving up for a special occasion. Fluid wine bar is one of those reasons.

On a recent Saturday night, I called my partner-in-crime and told him to get ready for that long-standing tradition of "Date Night."

Although the time has passed where we still try to impress one another with elaborate evenings and fancy restaurants, it's still nice to pretend to be romantic (imbibing never hurts, either).

I should insert a disclaimer of sorts. I might not be the best person for the job of reviewing a restaurant that revolves around wine. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that my knowledge of wine was limited to what came in a box and what came with a handle.

However, what I lack in formal education, I more than make up for in liking to drink.

My date and I headed to Fluid in fear of the worst-case scenario: yuppies. However, once we arrived, our worries were assuaged.

Located in a strip mall at Oracle and Ina, Fluid seemed unassuming. There were no neon signs or flaming things outside, only an easel holding the menu and a calendar of upcoming events.

As we entered, our assumption of an uptight atmosphere melted away. As the name suggests the layout is smooth and minimalist.

The bar arcs through Fluid, with tables lining the opposite wall. When we entered, there was a jazz band playing in the corner at just the right volume to allow conversation.

Already, we were a little smitten.

We hadn't been seated long before our waiter appeared, leaving us both the wine and dinner menus, and suggesting that we try the zinfandel, and explaining to us that we could select any of the beers sold at Brew & Vine (the adjoining upscale liquor store) and drink it at our table if we desired. He estimated that there were around 400 choices, but we weren't in the mood for beer, we had come for wine.

I decided on the Baby Tomato and Basil Chiffonade Pasta ($7.95) and a glass of the Kunde Estate Chardonnay ($7) and my friend opted for the small plate of Beef Tournaedos Demi Glacé Dijonaise ($8) and the zinfandel that our waiter so enthusiastically recommended.

What we didn't initially realize was that the Rombauer Zinfandel was $14 a glass.

Not necessarily for the student on a budget, but we chalked it up to "Date Night" and didn't let it ruin our evening.

The food arrived within 20 minutes, looking more like art than entrée. My accomplice's meal was presented on a square plate, balanced by the two parts of his meal. Our initial bites were followed by intense savoring.

Months of hurried eating in between classes and work schedules had caused us to forget that food could taste this good.

I usually avoid pasta dishes at restaurants.

Invariably, the noodles are either overcooked, or not cooked enough. Fluid withstood my finicky test. The noodles were boiled to perfection, and the baby tomatoes were exceedingly ripe and flavorful. The Riesling I selected was nothing special, but wasn't bad either.

My date enjoyed his meal so much that it was gone before I could even ask for a bite.

He unapologetically professed that the tender cut of beef and demi-glace sauce was extremely bold and flavorful. The beef was served with potatoes, thinly sliced and seasoned to accompany the glace. His meal was further complimented by the zinfandel, which was bold enough to compensate for breaking our budget.

Our waiter reappeared when we were finished eating, asking us if we'd care for dessert. He proposed a tiramisu, but returned to our table shortly after we had consented, letting us know that they had run out. We opted for what turned out to be a dry cheesecake, the only thing that didn't exceed our expectations.

For a special occasion, Fluid will impress.

Just be sure to check the prices on the wine list before you order.

Fluid is located at 7332 N. Oracle Road. For more information or to make reservations, call 797-1550.

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