I had only been to Aida Bistro & Wine Bar one other time when they were still in their old location. I was not very impressed on that occasion – the space was the opposite of cozy, the food wasn’t stellar, and given all the good things I heard, I was underwhelmed (please remember that I’m not an oenophile). Fast forward to today. My wife and I were in search of dinner the other night and just happened to be driving by the area (Columbia Gateway Dr.) when she suggested Aida; given my last experience I naturally resisted (as I have for over a year, unfortunately). I gave in, and I’m really glad I did.
The new space is much nicer than the old location – even from the outside, you feel invited into a nice dining experience. The decor is simple but nice, there’s good lighting and spacious seating, and the atmosphere tends towards the upscale. As you might imagine Aida Bistro is all about the wine; the focal point of the restaurant is a very unique wine bar. I’m not much of a wine expert, but according to the waiter they have 30 wines “on tap”. On tap you say? Apparently, the best way to store and pour wine is via nitrogen and a nitrogen tap so that the wine is not prematurely oxygenated. Who knew? The wine storage and distribution system is prominently displayed in a glass case as you walk in and continues on behind the bar in front of the main doors (pictures can be seen in this pdf from Aida). I believe the waiter also told us that the selection includes many wines exclusively to be found at Aida via direct partnerships with wineries. (They did have a decent bottled beer selection, but they’re expertise clearly lies in the realm of wine).
The food menu had quite a lot to offer as well. There is an extensive cheese menu from which you can make your personnel selections and build a plate to suit your palate. A fixed price menu is available with a large number of options for appetizers and entrees – interestingly, the fixed price menu items overlap very little with the a la carte menu.
We started with a custom cheese plate that included a goat cheese and a another cheese made with Chianti wine. The presentation and quality were both enjoyable.
We split a Ravioli dish made with Andouille sausage, shrimp, and smoked Gouda for the entree. Despite not having as much cheese as I was expected, it was spicy, rich, and tasty. Our waiter recommended a great red wine that paired quite well with the dish as well. All the pasta at Aida is fresh and actually made at the restaurant. The waiter also informed us that almost everything at the restaurant is made from scratch and indicated that all the fish had arrived that very day.
Speaking of our waiter, he was absolutely phenomenal. I didn’t catch his name (John maybe), but he was attentive, informative, and knew everything about the wine and food menus; however, he wasn’t intrusive in the least. Great service overall.
For dessert (the reason we split an entree) we shared a White Chocolate Crème Brûlée. Creamy, perfectly torched, and tasty, it was excellent.
I’m not sure if I went on a bad day originally, or they truly made changes when they moved, but dining at Aida Bistro was a pleasure and I’m sure we’ll be there again soon.