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Jun 26, 2008 09:51 AM

Vinum Populi or Vinoteque in Culver City?

Going to meet a friend for wine and light food after work in Culver City this evening. Are both places worth checking out, or is one preferable to the other?


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  1. Vinum Populi is no longer, it became Ugo Winebar on April 1st. They are serving the Ugo menu and the food is not very good. Vinoteque is more entertaining with excellent food and nightly live music. Both can be loud. Overall, I think that Vinoteque has a much better and more varied selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle. Ugo Winebar still has the enjoyable option to pour yourself tastes of wine by the ounce. Overall, I would say that both are worth checking out, but I personally prefer Vinoteque.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hrhboo

      Vinoteque it will be. Thanks for the reply.

    2. Consider Bottle Rock as well -- not as extensive a food menu as Vinoteque, but a fun spot -- also be warned that Vinoteque has extremely loud live music some nights.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nick_r

        Agree on Bottle Rock. Would go there instead of either of the other two. I never liked Vinum Populi, bad wine value and Ugo food is mediocre. Vinoteque is overpriced for what it is, and lots of pushing to sell more wine, just bad vibes. But music was good, but very loud as nick r said.

        1. re: slacker

          I like Vinoteque, but like others have said it does get extremely loud in that place. I have never tried Bottle Rock, but it sounds like a winner. Slacker is sooo right on Vinum Populi. That was one of the worst wine bar experiences I have had to date.

      2. Have to say that we ended up at Bottle Rock last night, and though the wine selection was solid, the place itself wasn't all that great and the service was verging on being terrible. I'm working in Culver, so maybe I'll try Vinoteque next time. I don't think I'll go back to Bottle Rock. Not an interesting space and it was quite loud. The service was inattentive, which was extremely frustrating given the number of employees in that place. There was nothing noteworthy about the food, but I didn't expect anything more that a decent cheese plate--stick to that if you find yourself there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sarap

          I agree that Bottle Rock has terrible service - I went there twice. The first time was okay, the second time we were treated really poorly. I highly recommend trying Vinoteque next time - much better atmosphere, at least for me.

          1. re: sarap

            We went to Vinoteque for the first time yesterday. We went at slack time between brunch/lunch and dinner, so the place was pretty empty - just the way we like it. We enjoyed our food and wine, and thought the prices were reasonable - buying wine by the bottle is your best deal as the mark-up is nominal - probably around 50-60%. It's hard to tell what service would be like when they are busy, but our waiter was warm, not overly attentive, was well-versed with the wines, and made some good recs. I also like this place for its accessibility as it's not in psychotic Downtown Culver City. As others have mentioned, the place needs to work on its acoustics. I would also prefer that the sofas in their lounge area had better ergonomics - the low backs on the furniture are practically useless. The bar-side of the place has standard chairs and the little tables - those are fine if you're doing a few little plates, but forget eating a meal on those tables.

            Let's face it - one can unload a decent amount of money relatively quickly at any wine bar. And of course wine bars want to sell bottles of wine on top of what you consume there - that's part of the game. But I'm not searching for nor expecting Bevmo prices at a wine bar - read overhead. I appreciate the fact that I can taste a fair number of very good wines. I feel that the better wine bars do a lot of the foot work for you by cutting through the clutter, nixing the skunky wines and offering the ones that they feel will enhance their reputation and of course generate repeat business. If one feels that the place is pushing some wines, I'm okay with that - as long as the wines they are pushing are worthy. And if I feel I've had a great time there, I'll show my appreciation and pick up a bottle or two as a sign of supporting the place. Most of all, I'm appreciative of the fact that the wine scene in the Westside just keeps getting better.