A careful look around the dining room of Little Louie’s reveals just a few allusions to its evening alter ego, Four2Nine: wine bottles displayed on individual shelves along the wall, oversized prints of the label artwork from their house red and house white wines.
By day, Little Louie’s is one of Point Richmond’s most popular lunch spots, with a line that snakes along the deli counter and, some days, nearly out the door. Yet after the lunch rush leaves every Thursday through Saturday, this favorite of Richmond’s professional scene turns into a fine dining experience that could not be more local.
Eating at Four2Nine feels like being in on a secret. A sliding wooden door hides the Little Louie’s deli counter, cordoning off the dining room and transforming it into an intimate space, with a wine bar in the back and candlelit tables in the front. This restaurant emerges for just a few hours on a few nights of the week. As its name suggests, Four2Nine is open only from 4pm to 9pm every Thursday and Friday, and from 5pm to 9pm every Saturday.
The wine list showcases an extensive variety. In addition to more familiar wines, like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, serious connoisseurs and adventurous drinkers can find more unusual varietals, such as Grenache Blanc, Carignan, and Valdigue. A closer reading of the wine list, however, reveals a distinctively local bent: many of the wines offered come from Napa and Sonoma, and a number even come from the East Bay’s very own Broc Cellars.
This local focus is the result of the restaurant’s strong relationships with nearby winemakers. Four2Nine regularly hosts winemaker events and then integrates the most popular of that winery’s offerings into the menu. This approach creates a thoroughly vetted, constantly rotating list of wines that is carefully tuned to local tastes. In addition, a strong personal relationship between the restaurant’s owners and Broc Cellars means that regulars can expect the Berkeley winery to maintain a strong presence at Four2Nine even as others rotate on and off the list.
The most recent winemaker event was with Pedroncelli Winery, from Sonoma County. Traces of this collaboration are found not only in the wine list, but also in the dessert menu, with a rich, fudgy brownie that is doused in Pedroncelli’s vintage port, topped with whipped cream, and dusted with cocoa. (We highly recommend.)
In addition to starters and entrees, the menu offers small, shareable plates – meaning that diners can choose to craft a casual, happy hour-style experience or enjoy a more formal, multi-course dinner. Starters and small plates include a generous cheese plate, portobello mushroom fritters, and pupusas; entrees include wild king salmon, wild mushroom ravioli, and a New York steak with chimichurri sauce.
To keep the wine list relevant to regulars’ tastes, Four2Nine’s resident wine expert, Michelle, keeps a close eye on the dining room. She can easily rattle off how many glasses the restaurant has sold of each wine at any point in the night – as well as what they haven’t sold. As a result, the otherwise diverse wine list will likely never include a Merlot. Michelle noted that they tried offering the otherwise standard varietal when they first opened, but it simply wouldn’t sell. “It’s funny,” she said, “ but Richmond just doesn’t seem to drink Merlot.”
Neighbors take note: though not all wines are offered by the glass, Four2Nine does allow diners to cork-and-go – meaning that one can order a bottle, enjoy a glass, and then go home to curl up with a movie and the rest. We recommend the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) from Le P’tit Paysan as splurge-to-go. This bright, fruit-forward red is surprisingly refreshing. Four2Nine recommends drinking it just slightly chilled.
To try out this underground hotspot for a date night or an after-work drink, stop by:
49 Washington Ave, Richmond, CA 94801
Follow them on Instagram at: https://instagram.com/four2ninewinebar/
Check out their Yelp page at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/four2nine-wine-bar-point-richmond
Photo courtesy of four2nine.com.