Generally speaking, income tax isn’t something we’re thrilled about; it’s more of a necessary evil. Income Tax, a new wine bar in Edgewater, on the other hand, is a place you should get excited about. It’s more than your run-of-the-mill wine bar, offering excellent service, above and beyond tasting notes, comfortable digs and outstanding small bites.
If you’re looking at wines by the glass, the list is focused and concise with one page of options. For bottle seekers, prepare to be indulged with five pages of decisions, including eau de vies, brandies and beer. But we recommend ditching the menu altogether (unless you’re a total wine expert, then help yourself) and asking your server where to start. Normally, when listing off the things I like in a wine (a fruity red with a light body, but nothing too sweet), I’m met with a tasting. That’s not the case at Income Tax. Instead, there were more questions to narrow in on the perfect glass: “What level of acidity do you prefer?” “What colors of red do you normally go for?” And if totally stumped, “Would you be open to trying a white? I’m sure you’ll like it.” Only then will you be served a tasting—either from the menu or the “drink your share” board, where bottles are opened and you pay only for the portion you drink. Not totally up to your liking? Went a little too adventurous? No worries, the staff is more than happy to continue the search to find a vino that suits you.
The same philosophy carries over to the food offerings. On the menu, dishes are divided up by the countries they’re inspired by: Spain, France, Italy and Germany. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick with one country. Guests are encouraged to pick and choose as they please. We stuck to mostly small dishes, like the house favorite, a carrot agnolotti served with mushrooms, crispy veal sweetbreads and slices of nebbiolo (grapes). Topped with bacon, the flammenkuchen is a fromage blanc fondue-filled onion tart that’s picture perfect (not to mention delicious, hearty and comforting). The large dishes are fit to share—like the coq au vin, a hefty half chicken with fingerling potatoes—so choose wisely.
We finished our meal with a dessert drink instead of a dessert proper after being talked into an eau de vie. The sip was so good that we wanted to pick up a bottle on the way home (we were told that Independent Spirits next door has a selection of the stuff). We were just a moment too late, though, as the liquor store closed while we were still caught up in the beauty of the bar. It’s all a testament to the fact that this place goes one step further, making you love the words “income tax,” which is quite a feat. From a shared board of bottles in progress to attentive and ridiculously on-point servers, Income Tax feels like a bar every neighborhood should have: a comforting place that’s dependable and delicious. Plus, you can take your learnings home with you—if you happen to leave on time to hit up the small-batch liquor store favorite.
Atmosphere: The restaurant feels lush, with deep-toned wood tables, dark blue chairs and warm exposed lights. A tiled floor brings it back home, though, giving the place the heart of an upscale neighborhood bar.
What to eat: A few small plates will satisfy a table of two. If sweetbreads are your thing, go for the carrot agnolotti; if not, order the flammenkuchen. Larger groups will want to steer toward bigger dishes like the coq au vin.
What to drink: Whatever your server tells you to—and we mean it. We started our night with a cocktail (Honeymoon and Income Tax are both delicious), which is a solid bet if you just happen to be in the neighborhood and want a drink. Beer and cider fans will be happy with their choices as well, but the main draw here is the wine.
Where to sit: On our visit, the bar was packed and we managed to get a two-top in the dining room. Still, we’d saddle up at the bar any day. No matter where you sit, you’ll have excellent service.