Amour Wine Bistro is a European haven in Carytown

Richmond seems to be opening a lot of wine bars lately. Walking through Carytown this Saturday afternoon, I decided to check out Amour Wine Bistro. Diagonally across the street from Can Can, I was nervous for them to open, especially with tapas and wine bar Secco new to the block as well.

Richmond seems to be opening a lot of wine bars lately. Walking through Carytown this Saturday afternoon, I decided to check out Amour Wine Bistro. Diagonally across the street from Can Can, I was nervous for them to open, especially with tapas and wine bar Secco new to the block as well.

The window is pretty nondescript, and tackily, ink-jet-printed individual sheets of paper are taped to the window advertising their father’s day brunch. The décor is mostly neutral colored with a generous dose of orange, a color I’m not sure fits yet.

As I’m peeking in the window, owner Paul Heitz opens the door and welcomes us in. The inside makes good use of mirrors and track lighting, and feels cool and spacious on this nearly 100 degree day. The bar is cozy-modern, stainless with wood trim and seats six. It’s surrounded by a few bar-height, two-tops, and there are about 12 other normal-height tables. White tablecloths make the space feel special, but Heitz’s passion for talking about wine keeps it from feeling stuffy.

Amour’s emphasis is on food and wine pairings and savoring the experience. Each month will feature a different wine region, and each week has a featured fresh food ingredient. This month’s wine is all from Heitz’s native Alsace, France. I tasted the “Discover Alsace” flight, three half glasses of white wines for $12. I’m more of a red drinker, but the trio of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Gewurztraminer was pretty outstanding. I don’t know if it was because it was so hot outside, or the fact that I was drinking wine in this intimate space with great conversation midday on a Saturday, but it felt pretty special. I also tasted the Pinot Noir Experience; served chilled, it contained half pours of three different countries’ versions of the popular red for $15.

Only open for three weeks now, Amour is doing a soft opening and will have a formal grand opening once they really get going. Heitz has been in Richmond 10 years, and this is his first restaurant. When asked why now and why here he says “Carytown is so pretty. I want people to come here and relax, enjoy a good time. I almost want to put a basket at the front to put your watch in.”

During my visit, Heitz made an immediate fan in an employee from Can Can who popped in on her break. She was clearly pleased by the Tartelette flambée ($6) and white wines she had. Heitz’s pleasure is evident when the customer gets excited about his product. Other menu items include Smithfield ham and leeks, grilled flank steak, roasted flounder, and homemade sorbet, made from berries picked locally.

Amour has ABC on/off so they can also sell you a bottle of that glass you just tasted. In the nearly 2 hours I was there, only two customers came in to stay, but a few wandered in asking for things he didn’t have (any type of soda, beer, or typical liquors). Heitz doesn’t seem bothered, he’s not trying to be everything to everyone, but I wonder if Richmonders can handle that. “It’s not for everyone but I know there are some people who will appreciate it. I’m [also] trying to stay reasonable in price.”

While there, another Frenchman comes in and the owner, bartender, and he converses animatedly in French, adding to the authentic feel of the place. Heitz wants “people to exchange about food and wine.” He’s not trying to match the volume of places like Can Can. “I wanted the intimate feel,” he says.

Amour Wine Bistro is located at 3219 W. Cary Street. They are closed on Mondays.

  • error

    Report an error

Holly Gordon

Holly Gordon spends her days working with Richmond’s hearty nonprofit community and her nights singing in a community chorus. She loves her feminist book club, and is always distracted by shiny things.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Jack on said:

    Heitz is a very nice guy and a good salesmen. However, if you are looking for a reasonable glass of wine, I would not recommend Amour. First off, a “glass” of wine at Amour is a half glass at any other restaurant. Secondly, there are no pricing for individual glasses of wine! Be aware, these “specialty French” wines are extremely expensive. My wife and I had two “glasses” of wine each and had a $60 bill. The menu with wine paring seems a lot more reasonable.

  2. Dear Jack,
    Amour Wine Bistro liked to thank you and your wife for visiting us.
    Every month we change the WIne region, starting with Alsace, France. We are not limited to France and will enjoy all the nice wine regions around the world month after month.
    The wine list at the bar is a good representation of these great alsatian wines. The printed bar menu shows the price of every wine by the glass. The pricing starts at $3 for a nice Pinot Blanc or dry Riesling. These two wines are a very nice selection at a great value. Many others are in the $4-6 range and it can climb to over $30 a glass for premium wines. All the wines we are pouring have been selected for their quality and we are proud of serving them. We try to be reasonable and affordable even with exceptional wines. We are offering a selection of wine at $15-30 a glass and higher for wine that can go from $100 to over $200 a bottle retail price.
    At the restaurant we want to provide our guests a unique experience that is focused on pairing wine and food in a relaxing setting where we are providing outstanding yet not intrusive service.

    Dear Jack, on your next visit let me guide you through the wine menu at the bar to experience the great quality and value of the wine I selected. Starting Tuesday the new wine region will be Rhone Vallee for month of July. We will have some magnificent wines at a variety of price levels.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Or report an error instead