Stillwater’s best bottles

Cheeseboard at Domacin in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Cheese board at Domacin

Photos by terry brennan

Jason: I love visiting Stillwater, but to be honest, the scenic Lift Bridge and adorable Main Street have always outshined the food scene. It’s more of a burger-and-beer town.

Joy: But just up the hill, off the main drag, Domacin wine bar has been captivating oenophiles for years—especially the private Captain’s room with seating for eight and walls lined with special-occasion bottles.

Jason: Owner Aleks Pantic turned the former Cesare’s Wine Bar into Domacin in 2009. It’s pronounced doe-MA-chin, which our server told us means “host of the house” in Pantic’s native Serbian. The focus is more on wine than food—in fact, they’ve recently opened a retail wine store in the back that focuses on Italian wines. The restaurant’s glass list has more than two-dozen options, most of which I’d never seen around town.

The Captain’s Private Room at Domacin in Stillwater, Minnesota.
The Captain’s private room

Joy: The food menu is relatively brief, while the wine menu goes on for days. The restaurant’s wine supply—close to 2,000 bottles—is far greater than its modest size would suggest.

Jason: The grilled-artichoke flatbread was the perfect starter paired with a lovely glass of Tre Uve, a chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend from Piedmont, as the black garlic and feta added a nice spicy and creamy counterpoint. I also really liked the tuna small plate: barely seared fish with Italian tomatoes, macerated fennel, capers, and basil that was light, bright, and refreshing.

Joy: The tuna paired beautifully with a rosé blend I selected. The pork-belly tacos topped with spicy, sour kimchi were another favorite starter.

Jason: Overall, I thought the entrées were less successful: The truffle oil was too heavy on the mushroom risotto as was the stone fruit gastrique on the arctic char. But the bison rib-eye, served with a zippy chimichurri and fried yucca, was great. And it was even better paired with one of the glasses that makes Domacin so special, a J.K. Carriere Oregon Pinot Noir.

Domacin Quick Tips

Reservations: By phone only

Private Dining: Special chef’s tasting menu available in the wine room

Patio: View of the parking lot, but there’s no such thing as a bad outdoor seat in Stillwater

102 Second St. S., Stillwater, 651-439-1352,