Local art evangelist, artist, and entrepreneur Ronda Richley, founder of Art Affair Gallery, has team up with the owner of the locally favorite (and much missed) Two Blondes and a Shrimp, Sherri, have teamed up to open a wine, beer, and food bar inside Art Affair Gallery. Now you can truly eat with the art and the artists--quite a few of the gallery's featured artists were in attendance at the Arty Party.
The opening gala featured Sangria by barmaid Lauren (who was kept mighty busy!) and every half hour Sherri would bring out another appetizer-creation for sampling. I tried to sample as much as I could, but I will say, you had to be quick to get some, it was all that good! One comment about the Sangria--it was good but was missing something--I think a bit of clove or maybe a stick of cinnamon would have pushed it over the top and given it a bit of mystery. But still, it was pretty darned good and I noticed that it all went through the course of the evening.
The appetizers that I sampled were all great and freshly made by Sherri. If you don't see a lot of food in the picture, it's because it was devoured before I had time to snap a photo. My favorites were two. First off, Sherri's Layered Concoction was a pleasure just to look at. Pesto, roasted red tomatoes, cream cheese , and basil were layered like a torte. Second, the Van Gogh was a very pleasant surprise--a vetegable/vegetarian pate was surrounded by huge sliced mushrooms and served with some artisanal bread and chips--it was delicious. All of the food was delicious. The assortment of crackers was astounding, the cheese was excellent, the baked brie and pears very good. I can't wait to come back some day and try the sandwich.
The menu at The Palette is small and very European in style, meant to be mostly appetizers, desserts, small plates that can be shared while drinking some wine or sangria, having one of the nice selection of craft beers, or over a cup of coffee. Many of the local artists were in attendance, and I suspect will be hanging out here as well. And if you can play the piano--or even if you can't--it's worth a try.
The interior of course is an art gallery, so you can wine and snack among lots of great local art--much of it by nationally and even internationally collected artists. The table and even the bar top themselves are actually works of art! And for those pleasant evenings, there is outdoor seating as well.
I have been a big fan of Art Affair Gallery since day one when they opened in a small space just a few doors down from the current location, almost two years ago. Since that time, they have moved to a larget space, then expanded, and now added the wine bar. I myself have provided the food for several events there, usually Sanford's Alive After Five and/or the Fourth Friday Art Walk. It is always a great time and alway a lot of fun. Over the past two years I have gotten to know many of the artists and other locals who are a part of the downtown Sanford art scene. And I've eaten at and reviewed many of the local restaurants. Downtown Sanford is really a happening place. Hope to run into you there sometime!