At a place where even the grilled cheese is classified as a snack, customers generally aren’t inclined to stay for a full meal.
“People would come in and have an aperitivo, or a nice cocktail after dinner,” says Matt Tunstall, co-owner of Stems & Skins.
But the Park Circle wine bar’s leadership team wanted customers to consider a Stems & Skins visit as the evening’s main event, rather than prologue or epilogue to eating elsewhere. So they’ve dropped the word “snacks” from their menu, and hired an experienced chef to oversee the kitchen.
Prior to joining Stems & Skins as its first chef, Greg Marks was a sous chef at The Daily, Pancito & Lefty and Edmund’s Oast. He started his cooking career in Charleston a decade ago, working under Frank Lee and Russ Moore at SNOB. Most recently, Marks was a sous chef at EVO, just down the block from Stems & Skins.
“He walked across the street and told us he wanted to work here,” Tunstall says. “The timing was really perfect.”
According to Tunstall, Marks will stay true to the wine bar’s established interest in Mediterranean flavors and fermentation techniques. Among the dishes he’s created for the new menu are shrimp campanelle with Spanish ham broth and Wisconsin bratwurst with sauerkraut.
Tunstall says he’s looking forward to pairing the sausage with an off-dry Riesling, one of a number of wines in the bar’s collection that calls out for something heartier than charcuterie or cheese. Stems & Skins will continue to serve both, though, along with tinned fish.
“It’s never going to be a meat-and-three,” Tunstall says. “But two people can come in, take their time and have a nice dinner.”