Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lancasters Steak & Seafood with Benton Lane Pinot Noir

Benton Lane Pinot Noir with Salmon at Lancasters Bloomington

For a dinner on the road last week in downstate Bloomington, IL, I settled in Lancaster's Steak and Seafood restaurant downtown. Dining alone is one of the worst parts of traveling on the road so I usually select fast food or a place to get it over with quickly. If I do venture on sit down dining, I'll be adventurous and seek a place that might prove distinguishable. Laying over in Bloomington, I chose Lancaster's thinking I'd do classic, safe midwest fare.

Dining alone allows but one glass of wine which makes the selection typically challenging to find something worthwhile let alone notable. I'll also seek the best pairing of food and wine available which is difficult when limited to the by-the-glass selection. My foray was further daunting when I opted for a baked salmon entree tempting fate for seafood in a rural inland tertiary city. What a delightful surprise in this pairing choice - baked salmon and an Oregon Pinot Noir - a real winner!

Lancaster's Baked Salmon entree featured honey, Dijon and toasted almond crusted, maple-soy glaze, roasted asparagus and a choice of side dish - mashed roasted potatoes.

For the wine selection I chose a by-the-glass selection from the wine list, Benton Lane Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2010.

The pinot was nicely structured and bold enough to stand up and nicely complement the sweet maple and forward soy glaze. Medium bodied, slightly opaque ruby colored, it presented red berry and strawberry fruits giving way to a layer of spice accented by smoke and pepper with hints of mocha on the moderate finish.

The wine was such a hit I bought a bottle at Binny's upon arrival home and we enjoyed it with artisan cheeses and fruits later in the week. It provides a nice QPR - quality price ratio at $22. We drink very few Pinot's because our favorites are all in the $60 range - not realistic for our daily drinking budget. This is a nice discovery.

I've seen the Benton Lane label (or lack thereof) many times but this was the first time I'd ever tasted it. Their packaging features a painted bottle featuring a postage stamp facsimile label - very creative, stylish and memorable. I'll definitely revisit it and keep some on hand for casual easy drinking at a reasonable price point.  

RM 89 points.

The baked salmon entree selection.

Lancaster's was tastefully decorated, comfortable, stylish, almost cosmopolitan in a historic rustic building with tin-type ceilings and brick walls. The  selection was good, prices acceptable and service personable, folksy and friendly. Most notably, the tempting food and wine pairings were numerous and my first adventure, despite being a bit daring, was a hit. I'll be back for more and look forward to my next trip downstate!

The Benton Lane imaginative and fun packaging design.