The most AMAZING wine bar... ANYWHERE... I swear!
Last night we ended up at Bottle Rock in Culver City.
The concept is quite impressive... you can choose any glass or flights of wine on the list (which changes on a weekly basis) or you can choose to try ANY of their *unopened* BOTTLES. For the unopened bottles you must commit to trying two glasses, and they price it at 1/3 the bottle price. What happens to the rest of the bottle? Well, it goes up on a "specials" chalk board, where they price it to sell by the glass.
What is even more impressive about this place is the expansive variety. I mean seriously... I have never seen a wine bar with this amount of stuff to try... and I don't even have to buy the whole bottle either! Amazing. The prices are also very reasonable too!
The food was pretty good to boot as well... we ordered the charcuterie and salumi plate. Though I have had better, both were delicious, albeit a bit pricey for what you get. Then again, you don't come here and focus on the food... this place is ALL ABOUT THE WINE.
What really made me fall in love with this place is the service... super down to earth people who are just cool... no snootiness AT ALL. No pretense anywhere. Not your typical wine snob place. Just about everyone came by our table and asked us how we were enjoying our wine and food.
This is a great place for anyone... from the "I drink cheap wine" all the way to those who are familiar with Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, and other cult wines. I must say that there were more than several people there that REALLY KNEW wine... inside and out. Tell them what you're looking for, your price range, and VOILA! Again, AMAZING.
One thing I didn't like was the difference in pours you get with different people. The pours we got were rather stingy compared to the patron who had a different server. I must say that their pours were almost TWICE what we got... which made me a little bit mad. Ok... back to the rave...
OH... and this place is fun too! The atmosphere is more like a laid back wine party, rather than a fancy schmancy, intimidating snob fest. There was rock music playing in the background. The place was packed and hopping at around 8 or so... be prepared to wait if you get there later. However, I HIGHLY suggest you wait... it will be worth it!
This place is now one of my favorites!!!
After our escapade at Bottle Rock, we decided to just look at what Vinum Populi had to offer. Not bad... they had a great selection of Italian wines but, the fun component was missing, as well as the service. Didn't try the food there either... planning on going back and trying Vinum Populi for happy hour someday... that is if we are able to fight the pull to Bottle Rock :P
From the looks of it, Bottle Rock takes the prize over Vinum Populi.
I like Bottle Rock, though perhaps not as enthusiastically as you do :)
But as a point of comparison, our glass of Stags Leap Artemis was $16 at Bottle Rock, and the other day I saw it on the list for Cut at $26 a glass. I'm not saying Cut does or doesn't have its reasons for pricing wine higher than Bottle Rock does, just offering a factual comparison.
We really liked the cheese selection at Bottle Rock. I forget which cheese it was, but the one our server suggested for the Artemis was spot on: the wine enhanced the cheese, and the cheese enhanced the wine.
Our server was also very helpful toward the beer drinker in our group. He encouraged him to try something different, promising that he'd drink the bottle and bring another for our friend if he didn't like it. He liked it.
The food at Bottlerock is overpriced for what you get, the selection of by-the-glass wines were rather uninspiring. Maybe it's just my musical tastes, but the screaming Led Zeppelin playing over the speakers in Bottlerock just didn't really go well with my Rhone wine.
That said, I'd much rather have a Bottlerock in that neighborhood than yet another subpar Howdy's/Pacifico's Mexican joint, but most amazing wine bar ANYWHERE? I respectfully disagree. I work in CC, but would prefer to drive to Bodega in Santa Monica for my after-work wine.
they had everything... new and old. i can't really say whether it was predominantly one or the other. as for their wines by the glass, it can go from about $5-$50 (if you order a really expensive bottle to open). as for the cult wines (i think they said Bryant was coming in? can't remember), they said that they were going to get those in next week. however, they already had sine e quinone on the list. that stuff is pretty hard to get too.
their stems that they used for us were really nice. don't remember if they use varietal specific ones or not.
Thanks for the info! "Everything" certainly covers a lot of ground.
Sine Qua Non can definitely be difficult to find. It is one of the more allocated wines out there. Do you recall which one they had, and how much it was by the bottle or glass?
Which wine was going for $50 a glass? Do you recall if they had a lot of Burgundy (red & white)?
Lastly, how long do they keep open bottles before disposing of them? Does it vary by varietal and/or producer?
Their list is pretty big. It's hard to be specific about "everything", though, I suppose. I don't recall a lot of burgs - Bin 8945 has that cornered as far as wine bars go - the Bin's coverage of both red and white Burgs is really, really amazing for a wine bar in LA.
I found Bottlerock good in ways that the Bin isn't - Italians, for example. And domestic Pinots, with some Mendocino wines you don't normally see. And their by the glass policy of "buy 2 and we'll open any bottle" is good - as the wine then goes onto the chalkboard, bottles get consumed very quickly. I'd say a day or so would be a reasonable estimate. They probably have 8-9 bottles on the board because of this, and they seem to be adjusting the list constantly as bottles come and go.
I was very worried it'd be a low end, accessible type place when was being built out, based on location and design, but I was wrong (yay!). They offer a great range, and retail prices are actually decent given the setting and overhead.
You should check it out.
The wine is fine but the service is why we'll probably never go back. We were there not long after they opened and had to wait for a table. An employee told us to wait a minute by the door for a table and they'd seat us. The next thing we knew, some friends of someone who I imagine was one of the owners walked in behind us and they were given the table we were told to wait for. When my husband commented that we had been told by a staff member to wait for that exact table, we were told that there was no "line" and that we'd just have to wait for another table. So Rude. Eventually we were seated at a table outside but based on their attitude, I don't think need to drink their wine.
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