Relm Wine and Beer Bistro
2390 Las Posas Road, suite H, Camarillo
991-7356
relmcamarillo.com
$11-30


If exceptional wine, craft beer and tasty tidbits to nosh on are your idea of a good time, then Relm is a culinary kingdom worth visiting.

The Camarillo wine bar is following the “casual but refined” trend of the moment, where comfortable seating, soft lighting and a serene atmosphere encourage customers to relax, socialize and sip with a discriminating palate. The décor features handsome tables and a lovely bar with couches and chairs scattered about — lots of leather, wood and room to lounge — plus a nice patio with a fire pit for cool winter nights.

Sampler of four wines, each a 2-ounce pour

Arriving on a busy Saturday night, all the couches were taken, so we took a seat at a high table (with surprisingly comfortable stools) and enjoyed our excellent view of the small stage, which hosts live entertainment every weekend. Our waiter explained that Relm’s small-but-tempting menu was designed for sharing, with things like nuts and olives, cheese boards, flatbread pizza and sliders (plus some salads and sandwiches, too). He also said that most of the wines couldn’t easily be found anywhere else. Relm’s proprietors, who designed the restaurant after a similar wine bar owned by a cousin in Carlsbad, look for boutique, local and small-batch wines that aren’t readily available on the market. That alone makes Relm worth the trip.

Twenty different wines were available the night we dined, from as far north as Washington and as far south as Camarillo (54 Vines, if you’re curious) with a few European varietals thrown in for good measure. Our server was happy to let us taste anything. Even so, to get a better sense of the quality, we went with a sampler — four wines, each a 2-ounce pour. I was pleasantly surprised. Three of our selections — a chardonnay, a dry rosé and a pinot noir — were fantastic (didn’t love the Chianti). We also appreciated that the wine’s name was written on each minicarafe, and that proper glasses for both red and white wine were brought to the table. I don’t expect I’ll find any of these tasty libations at the store, but luckily, Relm also sells its offerings by the bottle.

Pretzel sliders with roast beef, horseradish and Dijon

The beer list is much less extensive, but the restaurant’s eight taps feature a decent mix of styles (including a gose) with emphasis on local breweries. Unlike many other craft-beer establishments, Relm does not go overboard with the IPAs.

It’s nice to have something solid to eat with your wine and beer, and to that end, Relm does a decent job. The food menu is divided into “noshing” and “dining” sections, with appetizers, dips and cheese on one side, and sandwiches, salads and flatbread pizzas on the other. Having been told that items were designed for sharing, we were conscious not to over-order. So we tried the pretzel sliders with roast beef, some olives with nuts and the prosciutto rolls. By and large, the flavor was great. The roast beef was tender and meaty with a nice zing from the horseradish and Dijon. The green and kalamata olives were nice. The prosciutto rolls were filled with a great combination of tangy goat cheese, sweet honey, fresh pear and mint.

In all sincerity, it was a nice mix of flavors and textures. Servings, however, were rather paltry, and by the end of our meal, we weren’t quite satisfied. For items that run $10-15 apiece, I expected more food.

But perhaps that’s not Relm’s … well, realm. The wine selection is superb, and the food available is meant to complement, not play a starring role. This is a place to sit, sip and nibble rather than feast, and enjoy the company of friends or a loved one. To that end, it succeeded. My belly may not have been as full as I would have liked, but my palate and soul were more than satisfied.