Home What's at Steak? Bretton Lammi, Director of Beverage, Eddie..

Bretton Lammi, Director of Beverage, Eddie..

Eddie Merlot’s is an upscale contemporary American steakhouse and it is all about prime aged beef and okay, seafood too.

As you may or may not know, Eddie Merlot is not an actual person.

The name came from a wine suggestion during Eddie Merlot’s founder Bill Humphries’ company board meeting dinner. The man with the wine suggestion; Ed, picked a Merlot. And it was a hit.

We talked with Bretton Lammi, Sommelier and Eddie Merlot’s Director of Beverage about “What’s at Steak” at Eddie Merlot’s.

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    The Mark Wine Group

    We would love to hear what differentiates Eddie Merlot’s from other Steakhouses?

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    Bretton Lammi

    The overall atmosphere. The service is polished without pretense and the dining rooms are decorated in warm colors and have windows for natural lights. The number of regulars on any given night is staggering. We are not just a ‘celebration place,” for many it is just Tuesday dinner.

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    The Mark Wine Group

    What are some of the features that make Eddie Merlot’s unique?

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    Bretton Lammi

    We are a scratch kitchen. Every sauce, dressing, rub, marinade, soup, etc… are made from scratch. Literally everything.

Eddie Merlot's Prime Aged Beef and Seafood Pittsburgh Dining Room
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    The Mark Wine Group

    That’s pretty cool. What else?

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    Bretton Lammi

    We cut our own beef. The chef hand selects and hand cuts our Filet Mignon, Ribeye and New York Strips. All the trimmings from the steaks are ground up and make the best burgers! We also have the best Carrot Cake in the world and the Best Director of Beverage.

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    The Mark Wine Group

    Hahaha. If you had to describe Eddie Merlot’s in one word or phrase, what would it be?

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    Bretton Lammi

    Exceptional experiences.

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    The Mark Wine Group

    Do you have a Coravin program?

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    Bretton Lammi

    We do. We currently pour 6 wines via Coravin which are offered in two sizes; 3oz and 6oz.

Tomahawk Ribeye at Eddie Merlot's
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    The Mark Wine Group

    Do you offer different glass pour sizes for the rest of your wines by the glass

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    Bretton Lammi

    Right now, we only offer 6oz pours but we might play around with a lager pour size in a few markets this year. We are actually opening two new locations this year; Boston and Indianapolis, so we might experiment with the new lists

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    The Mark Wine Group

    How do you, select your wines?

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    Bretton Lammi

    I select the wines for the core program once a year. I just finished doing so for the 2020 list.

    I tasted over 330 wines in December and January and narrowed them down based on our guest preference, trends in the market and price point.  Our core program consists of about 35 wines by the glass and an additional 70 by the bottle. The remaining 50-90 selections are selected by the local management teams.

    This allows for local guest favorites, wines not available in all states, and wines that the local teams enjoy.

    I find that this affords a sense of ownership in the list and keeps the teams engaged more so than a completely mandated list. In addition to the selections, the local teams determine pricing based on their market. I still approve their selections and pricing choices.

The Wine Cellar at Eddie Merlot's, Ashburn, VA
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    The Mark Wine Group

    How do you educate your staff about your wines?

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    Bretton Lammi

    New staff go through a 2-day training focusing specifically on wine. We have handpicked the trainers to guide them through the curriculum. We also hold weekly tastings in our stores guided by the local management team or local suppliers.

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    The Mark Wine Group

    Do you have any favorite food & wine pairings?

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    Bretton Lammi

    The best rule is drink what you want and enjoy with whatever food you are having. But I definitely have some guidelines for pairing steak and wine.

    The fattier the steak, the bigger the wine needs to be. Filet Mignon (low marbling) goes great with a lighter wine like Pinot Noir.

    Ribeye (High marbling) begs for bold Syrah or a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon.

    My favorite cut is a NY Strip and is right in the middle of the two previous steaks with regards to marbling so I usually recommend Merlot or a Brunello di Montalcino. Also, a Colheita Port and Crème Brúlée.

    You can thank me later.

We will have to give that one a try. It sounds pretty spectacular. Thank you so much.

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