Yep - totally cute patio...even in the LA "winter" (LOL). There are garden boxes surrounding the patio with fresh herbs. The food was very good as well as the wine selection. I love that you can open any bottle on the wine list as long as you order 2 glasses. They also have a communal wine tasting selection that changes because it includes the open bottles that people order 2 glasses from.
Went on New Year's Day and then again last night. Amazing. It's moved from a restaurant with great wine to a sort of wine bar with tapas-style food. Not Spanish, per se, but the size and idea of tapas. Ryan continues to amaze with his enthusiasm and his ability to read the table. We just let him have at it last night and feed us whatever he thought was good. Out of the dozen or so dishes, we didn't like two - and they disappeared from the menu. Highlights were the raviioli, the meatballs and the cheeses. We were a loud foursome groaning in ecstacy! The wine was sensational too - starting with a crisp, light Pinot Gris and moving up in weight to a full decanted red (have to say at this point, I'd rather lost track of what I had eaten and drunk) finishing with a caramelly desert wine with kick-ass desserts. You'd think I was an investor in the place. I swear I'm not!
Vinoteque on Melrose
7469 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
OK, so I have to admit, after years of coming here, the food is really diminishing a bit. My recommendation would really to go not all that hungry and just nibble - pretzel rolls with honey butter and mustard were astounding, and the cheese platter is always good (with jams and suchlike - yum). The molten chocolate cake is great, but I really miss their old churros and coffee treat.
So - the reason to come here is - and always has been - Ryan Hess. He is just the most entertaining, smart, funny, consistent server (too diminutive a name for what he does - he's a sommelier and at Vinoteque, a master of ceremonies). He's almost psychic. He'll find out what you do and don't like, and - if you let him guide you (and you should) - will base the wines around your mood and order the food to compliment it.
There's always a great story or background to each bottle, and his enthusiasm for everything just shines through.
We are two couples and we go on each of our birthdays - so that's four times a year (I can add!) and we should really go more often.
If you don't want to splurge too much, go to one of their movie events - tonight is SIDEWAYS - always a food/drink theme - and you can nibble and sip as you want. Ryan also does wine tasting events.
Just GO - but not so much for the food any more. It's not TERRIBLE - it's just not as great as it used to be.
But Ryan is. Where he leads, we will follow!