By Sara Conrad Special to Published Nov 05, 2010 at 3:07 PM

When I was moving into my new Shorewood digs a couple months back my moving buddy and I decided to ditch the boxes for something more edible. We headed out to explore my new hood and forage for food. On our way down Oakland Avenue I noticed a teeny joint tucked into a row of storefronts called "Thirst & Vine." My grub gathering partner and I slowed down the car but quickly accelerated, dismissing the quaint wine bar as just that. Wine and a bar.

Knowing what I now know about the little "wine bar," I wish we would have whipped a u-turn.

Recently, I was invited to dinner at Thirst & Vine, 4330 N. Oakland Ave., and let's just say I was cautiously intrigued. I'm a fan of food and I've been known to pop open a box of wine in my time, but I'm certainly no sommelier and I'm not into stuffy wine joints where swishing and sniffing are required before swigging. And spitting? No. Just no.

Not only did Thirst & Vine quash all my wine snobbery fears, it surpassed all my expectations and I can't wait to return. The space is actually one of many roles. It plays a wine shop, a bar, and a restaurant where every square inch is warm, cozy and relaxed. The wine list is extensive, which is to be expected. I had a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, not a box. It was so dang delicious I bought a bottle of my own to take home. A souvenir I can sip. Love that.

Although the wine takes center stage, literally, with the rows of bottles for purchase, the brightest star at Thirst & Vine is the food.

I began my meal with the bacon-wrapped date appetizer, which was served warm with a few crackers and grapes on the side. Once upon a time, sweet and salty got married and had these precious pieces of delicious. Amazing. You receive four total, which is just enough. They're decadent and delicate yet satisfying. A perfect precursor to the meal on tap. My dining buddy ordered a boat of olives. No kidding. It was a little ceramic boat overflowing with all varieties of the salty fruit.

For my main act, I couldn't resist the basic mac and cheese. Basic? Hardly. The menu said it's addicting and I'm sad to say I'm now in cheesy noodle rehab. You can curb your eventual admittance to cheeseaholics anonymous by ordering the lunch portion anytime. Not I. I went in feet first and ordered the dinner portion so I could take some home with me. Best decision I made all week. It is creamy and comforting to the core. A must try on any crisp autumn day or night.

My friend ordered the daily burger, one of the many ever-changing specials. She was highly impressed with her blue cheese infused meal topped with mushrooms, which went perfectly with her carefully chosen wine of the red variety.

If you are a fan of dessert, you will pinch yourself at Thirst & Vine. The dessert tray is a thing dreams are made of. Sugary, delicious dreams. My date and I split a lemon tart, which was perfectly tart, not sweet which is practically a crime in the tart world according to my friend. Either way, I enjoyed it with the bubbly dessert wine we paired with it. A perfect end to a scrumptious evening.

Speaking of scrumptious, here's a little tidbit for my fellow single women. It was my observation that the bar at Thirst & Vine was quite the happening hot spot for seemingly single and incredibly cute men. Incredibly cute men who know a diamond in the rough when they see one. However, now that the secret's out, I call dibs, ladies.

Sara Conrad Special to

To say Sara is a woman of many hats would be like saying sour gummy worms are delicious: an epic understatement. Besides blogging, vlogging, tweeting and designing, she is a gal about town. Hopping, skipping and jumping all over this fair city to seek out the latest and greatest.

Since moving to Milwaukee right after high school, Sara's ADD has led her to reside in nearly every ZIP code Milwaukee has to offer. She recently moved from the Third Ward to Shorewood, and though the quieter scene isn't sucking, she vows to prove the burbs' swagger is right up there with the city's.

The Milwaukee area is one of many hats. And Sara's determined to try on each and every one of 'em.