Anyone been to Vinoteque yet?
Looks promising -- yet another hip-but-affordable Culver City joint. (Though this one's not in the heart of downtown like most of the rest.) I think we're going to check it out on Friday, but just wondering if anyone else had gone already.
We stopped by Vinoteque to rest our doggies after a busy morning and had brunch/lunch. The interior is split into two areas, plus some outdoor tables along the storefront. The bar area is a typical bar setup, with smallish tables and chairs, while the other half is set up like a lounge with coffee table-height tables and low-back sofas, with a small stage in the back corner for live music. At first, the low tables were a bit difficult to eat off of, but when I had a few sips and started to unwind, I focused less on strictly eating for eating's sake and began lounging and enjoying my wife's company - duh.
I felt the quality of the food was very good and of course the various menu offerings will typically pair nicely with a glass of wine or two. We ordered the Mediterranean Chicken Salad, the shakshuka (a traditional Israeli dish of poached eggs in a tomato/pepper/onion sauce), and the prime beef burger. Even with these three distinctly different dishes, we were able to find a couple of wines that went well with the three dishes. They boast a list of 500 wines (which we did not go through) which is subdivided by wine type, as well as region and a pretty decent "Emerging Areas" category which always interests me, but they make it simple to cut to the chase by having a short list of their more popular wines that pair well with their typical menu items. We were able to skim down their pairings list, cross-reference similar dishes with the suggested wine pairings, and quickly narrowed down the choices to a 2006 Zarzales Dry Rose from Spain (good European Roses are so underappreciated in the US), and a 2006 Waterbrook Melange Blanc from Washington, checked with our waiter, Ryan (great guy from Ireland - his family must have disowned him after hearing he let a drop of wine pass his lips outside of Communion) if our choices would be suitable - thumbs-up - and closed the deal. We decidedly shared only two glasses between us as we needed to run the Culver City gaunlet and drive home in a reasonable amount of time.
The chicken salad was fresh, well-prepared, and made up of thick shreds of moist grilled chicken and had a nice dressing made of what the menu described as tahini vinaigrette. This paired exceptionally well with the Melanage Blanc which had huge nose of fruit and flowers, and a little grassiness, just a bit of sweetness, and a nice long slightly mineraly clean finish. This wine must have just about every major white varietal (in nice proportions) in it.
The shakshuka is somewhat pizza-like in flavor range, but we needed to have a wine that could bridge over to the richness of the beef in the burger, so the Dry Rose worked well. Somewhat similar in color and body to a Pinot Noir but having a deep nose of raisins and cassis which breathes of richness, it balanced the acidity of the Shakshuka and rounded out the richness of beef. The burger is deceptively large - it's a 1 1/2"+ thick patty cooked just south of medium (nice juicy pink in the middle) that fits snugly into a substantial, artisan-quality bun (like 3 Square's pretzel bun but wheat with onion?) dressed with carmelized onions, lettuce and aioli.
They offer the usual charcuterie and small plates, and you can choose up to seven cheeses off of their list of about a dozen, mostly from California and Italy. They also have separate brunch, lunch and dinner menus. Next time, I have my eyes set on their hanger steak, which according to our waiter, Ryan (again, great guy), is supposed to be excellent. Geez - and all of those great reds to choose from to keep my steak company...
Their beer list is quite respectable as well. Outside of Stella Artois, all of the other beers that I recall were all craftsman-quality, including brews from Ommegang, Bear Republic, Hopf, Brasserie Dupont, and even Avery White Rascal on tap - perfect for the summer - WOO HOO!!!
In general, their wine prices by the glass are pretty much at market for restaurants, but the real deal is ordering by the bottle. We're guessing a nominal markup above wine shop prices for the bulk of their wines that we were familiar with, and the same goes for their beers - a very conservative mark-up. I'm really starting to like this place, considering this, the quality of food, and a 15 minute bike ride from home. Some have mentioned that the pours were on the light side, but I didn't feel that - pretty standard on my Rose in the big-ass burgundy glass and actually on the generous side for the Melange Blanc. The somewhat long pour on the white was almost prophetic - it was our first glass up and the first one always goes down fast.
The one thing they may need immediate work on is the music issue. It's great that they offer live music - a nice draw for many - but the interior space is a difficult fit acoustically. Like others have mentioned, a lot of solid surfaces equals harsh loud noise. We weren't there to experience the live music, but it's very evident given the size and layout that it would benefit from an acoustic consult. And while we were there, it was practically quiet enough to hear paint dry. Some sort of background music - anything - should be standard there. I'll listen to anything except rap-ish stuff when I'm wining and dining, so please, put something on... anything!
Their three basic desserts outside of their dessert wines are bread pudding, chocolate hazelnut tart (or maybe torte??), and their house sundae which is Mexican chocolate ice cream topped with hazelnuts, sauce, and bananas flambe'... be still my heart, be strong my knees...
4437 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230
We went Saturday night. Service was a little slow, and be sure to reserve a seat in the lounge area if you plan to eat (although it's loud there with live music). The bar area tables are too small for a group of three ordering food. We also loved the Mideast Burger, which was lamb kefta.
Cool space. Like most live music venues, you aren't going here if you want to have a quiet conversation (unless you sit outside). Did the flight tasting - 3 decent-sized pours of Spanish/Portuguese reds for $15. Very good choices. Liked the dates stuffed w/blue cheese (4 for $7). The truffle grilled cheese was a larger portion ($10), but very delicate flavor (i.e. a bit bland).
No kidding... I knew there was live music, but I don't think we were prepared for how loud it was going to be. It's pretty much like trying to have a conversation in the middle of a dance floor. Service was pretty spotty, too. That said, the food and wine were really good. And it's great to have a hip place like this in a different part of Culver City.
meh. the cheese plates were nice, came w/ dates, roasted almonds? etc. the bread's from breadbar, but the 3 sandwiches we tried (truffle grilled cheese, kebab, etc.) were all just 'ok'. the truffle grilled cheese was definitely short on the truffle and high on the carbs.
we had a party of ~15 and the service was extremely prompt / cordial. everyone loved the space, the wines were reasonably priced tho pours smalll and the 'band' was indeed more jazz than blues which i REALLY dug.
great addition to CC but not a destination for sure.
Well, for me, for everything you said above, it actually MAKES the place a destination! LOL! Not, though, for food, I would imagine given the reviews above. But I can't really think of a wine bar that I'd consider so, including AOC, though it does have some decent bites to go with the vino. For me, these bars are about the wine and the vibe.
And the music is really right for this concept, I think.
Trying FO2 tonight, but if that doesn't fly for some reason, we're headed back to Vinotheque.
I went there yesterday and it was quite nice. We got a tip on a great bottle of Silver Lake Pinot Noir from Tasmania of all places from the waitress. It was a tasting on the wine flight for the night but we got the waitress to give us a taste for free. At $45 it was a bargain with nice complexity with a very long finish so we immediately ordered it. After coming from the FO 2 in Culver City, we decided to stop by to check out Vinoteque. They had a jazz band (The Three Amigos) playing and the place is split into a loungey area for enjoying the band, a bar area, and outdoor seating area. We ordered a cheese plate which went really well with the wine. Didn't eat much else though, sorry. I'd recommend it. Especially if you like wines.
Yes, we liked it a lot. Excellent wines on their list at near retail prices, especially if you buy the whole bottle (For example, Brown Estate zin for $40. We liked.). Really friendly service, too. Live jazz trio. Only gripe is pours are not huge if you buy a glass or two from an unopened bottle, but that may vary and they may get a bit more generous (maybe they read CH, hint hint....). We were very happy - pretty great overall.