Hey, Can we BYOB?

The old adage, it never hurts to ask, is a mantra I live my life by. The worst response you can get is no, so you might as well give it a shot! You’d be surprised at all the times the universe has said YES.

The trouble with our favorite Indian spot is the wine list. It’s bad. I usually order water. Husband usually gets some random beer called Haywards 5000[1]. But the food is awesome. The spice is crazy, the quality is great, and it’s cheap. I had a gorgeous bottle of Riesling I was saving and I really wanted to drink it with Indian food. Ordering to go is a pain since the restaurant is about 20 minutes away. So I said, what if we called and asked if we can BYOB? They said of course, for a $7 corking fee[2]. SCORE.

Maharaja Express? Maybe not quite.
Maharaja Express? Maybe not quite.

Now this place is not exactly the Maharaja Express[3], but it gets the job done. I always try to order something different since everything I’ve had is great, and the menu is pretty extensive, filled with items I’ve never tried; Chicken Saag,[4] Rogan Josh,[5] Seekh Kebab,[6] and a whole lot more.

Chicken Vindaloo
Chicken Vindaloo

We started with some vegetable samosas and the cinnamon/cardamom flavors popped through which was really fun. For dinner I went with Chicken Vindaloo, hot and spiced chicken cooked with potatoes and a touch of vinegar[7]. They always ask you whether you want it Spicy, American Spicy or Indian Spicy. Now Husband and I consider ourselves connoisseurs of spice. When we travel we seek out the local hot sauce[8]. Put some Tabasco on it and I’m usually a happy camper. Last time we were here I went with “Indian spicy” and it literally knocked my socks off. I could barely eat through the tears streaming down my face. Since I actually had some wine I wanted to enjoy with this meal, I toned it down to American Spicy[9].

Our Wine Chiller
Our Wine Chiller

They provided us with an ice bucket soda pitcher to keep the wine chilled[10]. Let me tell you, bringing this wine to dinner was the best idea. Ever. The Hillersden 2015 Riesling tied everything together like an essential part of the meal, almost another food group[11]. A whiff of honey on the nose; light and vibrant with a bit of lemon zest. This meal’s perfect degree of spice was a flawless companion to the slightly sweet Riesling. A faint touch of minerality on the finish, it was the missing link to make this dining experience complete.

2015 Hillersden Riesling
2015 Hillersden Riesling

Next time you’re wanting to go to dinner but know the wine list is subpar, ask to BYOB. It can make the experience that much better[12].

BYOB was such a good idea!
BYOB was such a good idea!

Hillersden, the wine producer, has a pretty neat story as well. Historically Hillersden was an industrial township in New Zealand’s Upper Wairau Valley. World War II crippled its industry, leading to its steady decline. Husband and Wife team Bruce and Marian Forlong came to Hillersden in 2013, along with their three sons, with the goal of bringing new life to the area. And so far, based on this Riesling, they’re doing a great job.

(C) Hillersden Wines
(C) Hillersden Wines

So far distribution in the US is limited, but you can use coupon code ESQUIRE for 30% off their entire wine selection through October 31. Shipping isn’t too bad, and the wine is super affordable. Let me know what you think!

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] It comes in an extra-large bottle and it’s actually kind fun.
[2] Which is reasonable and fair. #BYOB To all those restaurants price gouging with a $20 cork fee, really?!
[3] Which is on the travel bucket list for sure. Check this out, it looks amazing!

(C) Maharaja Express
(C) Maharaja Express

[4] Boneless chicken cooked with chopped spinach, and Indian spices.
[5] Lamb cubes cooked with tomatoes in freshly grounded spices, and yogurt sauce.
[6] Skewered ground lamb, spiced with garam masala, onion, ginger, and cilantro.
[7] Confession: I don’t remember what Husband got, but he usually gets Chicken Tikka Masala. It was great.
[8] Anguilla’s Rockfield Pepper Sauce is up there as one of THE BEST in the world. Serious Wow.
[9] It was the right choice.
[10] Fancy? No. Efficient? Yes.
[11] And at $15 a bottle, it’s a no-brainer.
[12] AND they forgot to charge us the BYOB corkage fee. Probably because nobody ever brings their own wine. Or maybe because they know us and felt bad their wine list was bad.