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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Ajanta, CyBelle's Front Room, Syma’s Mexican Grill and Persian Cuisine

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 17, episode 3, airs Thursday, May 19, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes, and never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Located on Berkeley’s Solano Avenue, Ajanta Restaurant focuses on harder-to-find Indian specialties with creative, modern flair, regularly changing up their menu to showcase unexpected, complex regional dishes. Then, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset, CyBelle’s Front Room offers one of the Bay Area’s most extensive vegan menus, dishing out New York-style pizza and other decadent, carb-centric Italian and American cuisine. Finally, Syma’s Mexican Grill and Persian Cuisine in Albany pairs two unexpected culinary traditions, offering authentic Mexican cuisine alongside flavorful Persian fare.

Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Sri Lekha Srinivasan, Erika Hazel. and Joe Lurie from KQED in San Francisco.

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

My name is Leslie Sbrocco, and I’m the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I’ll share my tasting notes about the wine, beer and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.

2019 Gérard Bertrand Heritage ‘An 825’ Crémant de Limoux Brut France, $20


For the best value in French sparkling wine, look not to the famed northern region of Champagne, but south to a place called Limoux. Here is the true home of bubbly made in the traditional French method when the monks at the nearby Abbey of Saint Hilaire in the year 825 discovered the secret of effervescent fizz. Gérard Bertrand’s Heritage Crémant de Limoux pays homage to this history with an affordably delicious dry-styled sparkler. It’s a wine worth twice the price.

2021 Bonterra Rosé
California, $16

Quench your craving for deliciously dry rosé with Bonterra’s pretty-in-pink wine. Made with organically grown grapes, it’s a delicate blend of grapes led by Grenache, which lends lovely citrusy, pink grapefruit notes with juicy strawberry and cherry flavors. Keep bottles chilled to pull out and enjoy with everything from a sunny day to a sushi platter or a bountiful brunch.

2017 Orlando Abrigo ‘Meruzzano’ Barbaresco DOCG
Italy, $46

What a wine. This gloriously opulent yet elegant red hailing from Italy’s Piedmont region, is one to seek out. The growing area of Barbaresco is heralded as one of Italy’s best. The grape variety planted there is Nebbiolo and it shines nowhere else in the world outside of a few areas in northern Italy. Expressing the uniqueness of the special vineyard (or Cru), this wine is made with 100 percent Nebbiolo. In Italian nebbia refers to ‘fog’ and the hilly, mist-laden spot produces grapes with tannic intensity. This wine opens with sour cherry aromas and follows with a silky, concentrated mouthfeel. Let the wine open in your glass or a decanter then pour alongside pasta dishes, aged cheeses, grilled lamb, or beef stew then prepared to be transported to Italy with every sip.

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.

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