Olde Towne Portsmouth appeared to have all that a then-meets-now small city could want: historic architecture, arts and culture, popular music venues, an appealing riverfront and inviting shops and eateries. But there was nowhere for residents to buy wine by the bottle.
So Mandy Tamplin returned to her native Coastal Virginia to change that by opening Stellar Wine Co. She brought her two decades of experience in the wine worlds of Raleigh, N.C. and Charleston, N.C. and D.C. plus an eye for design. For 15 years of kitchen expertise, artistry and leadership, she turned to Chef Jamie Young, a Johnson & Wales graduate with six years executive chef experience throughout Southeast Virginia. Chef Young will serve in a consulting capacity: procuring, hiring, training, and designing changing menus of tapas to include weekly specials, lunch and weekend brunch selections and handmade desserts.
Open since the end of June, the cool, sophisticated, lamp-lit space belies its roots as a former comic book shop adjacent to the Commodore Theatre. Tactile, eclectic and decidedly sexy, this establishment offers table, bar and cushy banquette seating; colorful contemporary art; and toned-downed vignettes with a quirky “curiosity cabinet” vibe to create a space as unexpected as it is appealing and seductive.
Wines by both the glass and bottle to enjoy on-site or bottles-to-go render this respite part wine bar and part low-key wine shop where signature olive oils, vinegars and handcrafted platters and candles may also be purchased. Other beverage options include unique beer selections covering the major styles, spritzers, cappuccino/espresso, blood orange San Pellegrino and a handful of distinctive mimosas.
With a wine vision focused on some 250 ever-changing labels from small producers and family-run operations both local and global, it is only fitting that the menu of “Stellar Bites” be similarly broad in appeal, yet carefully crafted and exquisitely plated to complement the wine selections. Sourced from local organic growers and local producers, the compact menu showcases Chef Young’s penchant for modern French cuisine balancing decadence and restraint. Here, simple food that speaks for itself doesn’t mean uninspired.
Prepare to be both surprised and delighted by what new small-but-substantial savory offerings accompany, say, your toasted Marcona almonds—with rosemary essence and dried nasturtiums—and glass of sophisticated French rosé.
Get your “global chill” on at this stellar cellar.
Stellar Wine Co.
425 High St., Olde Towne Portsmouth
Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m.–10 p.m.,
Friday and Sat until 11 p.m., Sun until 9 p.m.