A San Diego Bistro’s “Drink-by-numbers” Menus

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Lots of bar and restaurant operators aim to take the intimidation out of wine service. Little Frenchie in San Diego’s Coronado island takes an imbiber-friendly approach to wine pairings with its “drink-by-numbers” menus. Each wine on the list has a number; items on the food menu include the numbers of the wines that will complement the dish.

Little Frenchie, which opened in late May, specializes in classic French cuisine rooted in locally sourced ingredients and lighter preparations, such as house-made quiche with bacon, gruyere cheese and caramelized onion; croque monsieur; and steak frites with prime coulotte steak, caramelized shallot and bone marrow jus, among other classics.

The wine list, printed on the back of the menu, is approachable and celebrates bright, juicy French and California varietals, all available by the glass and by the bottle. Suggested pairings numbers on the menu in a tan circle indicate white wine, rosé and Champagne; numbers in a red circle mean a red wine.

For instance, the current menu recommends the cassoulet ($32) with wine #17 (Diatom Katherine’s Vineyard 2017 chardonnay) and #42 (Laird Phantom Ranch 2015 pinot noir); both wines are priced at $15 a glass, $45 a bottle. The short rib put-au-feu ($30) is suggested with #13 (Kivelstadt 2018 grenache/carignan, a glass, $45 a bottle) and #30 (Domaine Rothschild 2016 “Legend” cabernet blend, $23 a glass, $69 a bottle).

The all-day café, which invokes the corner bistros from Paris to Provence, also includes a “Cheese Altar” that displays an array of chef Matt Sramek’s favorite domestic and French fromage used to assemble the bistro’s cheese boards. In addition to the more than 40 wines on the list, Little Frenchie stocks a selection of Belgian and French beers and ciders available by the bottle and on tap.

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