It's a bubbly, swanky affair at Effervescence, the Champagne bar on Rampart Street.
At this homage to all things sparkling, a baby grand piano anchors the dining room and tall ceilings and crown molding imbue an air of elegance. Marble countertops and dim lighting set the mood for a decadent experience.
It's also a smart, calculated kind of elegance, and the attention to detail is striking. The Champagne theme extends beyond the drink list, from the cork menu design to the napkin holders — featuring a muselet, the wire cage that holds a cork on a bottle of sparkling wine.
There's a decent selection of beer, wine and liquor, but this is first and foremost a Champagne bar. The well-curated list of all things bubbly offers 17 sparkling wines by the glass and a lengthy list of international and domestic bottlings. There are high-profile selections from top Champagne houses as well as lesser-known bottles from the same estates or vineyards.
Whimsically named Champagne flights offer guests an informative way to sample several bubblies. Some of the regionally focused options are The Italian Job, the Spanish Prisoner and Born in the USA.
Though sparkling wines are the main attraction, food is far from an afterthought. While diminutive in size, the menu showcases chefs Evan Ingram and Brenna Sanders' talents and dexterity in the kitchen and left me wanting more.
Bar snacks include popcorn drizzled with Castelvetrano olive oil, which arrives glistening and salty. Naturally, there's caviar on the menu, and while an order of the Royal Sturgeon Reserve will set you back $95, the deliciously briny local bowfin Cajun caviar ($35) is a worthy alternative. The roe is served with creme fraiche, a delicate mound of finely chopped chives and addictively crunchy and spicy house-made potato chips.
The grilled half wheel of Delice de Bourgogne is a nice detour from ubiquitous cheese and charcuterie plates. Here, thick sticks of olive oil-slicked bread are toasted and served with the wedge of melted cheese and a handful of warm, sweet barhi dates.
One of the standout dishes features refreshing sweet heirloom tomato pieces served with avocado on a bed of lemony and lighter-than-air sheep's milk feta. The medley is topped with crispy sprouted lentils, sorrel leaves and a bright yuzu dashi vinaigrette.
Slightly larger in size is the plate of beef and panisse bites, which seemed like a deconstructed beef Wellington but smarter. Creamy chickpea filling makes up the base of the panisse cakes, which have a pudding-like consistency and arrive topped with thick slices of beef and a drizzle of sauce chasseur. A romaine lettuce dressing pools on the side of the plate, offering a snappy and herbaceous respite to the richer elements.
It's easy to be charmed by this elegant spot with its unique approach, impressive list of sparkling wines and thoughtfully paired bites from the kitchen.