Friday, April 9, 2010

Love me some late night meat @ Vinoteque

After the Top Chef Masters Viewing party at Street, we made our way over to Vinoteque to get us some grub since we barely grazed at the cocktail event. This is the second outpost of Vinoteque. The original location in Culver City (located away from Main Street where all the restaurants and movie theatres are lined) abruptly closed due to unresolved liquor license issues. I was bummed when it shuttered because I was excited to find a wine bar that was located away from the bustle of Downtown Culver City. Vinoteque v2.0 opened a year later and already, it seemed more promising than the first. It's located in the higher foot traffic area of Melrose Ave in the former Cafe Luna spot, and the food menu is more expansive. Gotta eat something if you're drinking, no?

They have a lovely outdoor patio but it was chilly out so we decided to sit indoors. The dining room is decorated in wood, walls are lined with wine racks and seating consist of rustic tables and leather chairs. Our table was by the french windows that opened onto Melrose Avenue.

The restaurant has a communal wine program whereby you may open up any bottle if you decide to order two glasses, and if you choose not to finish the bottle, you'd be charged per glass and the rest of the bottle will be placed on the communal table and listed on a computer screen for other patrons to purchase. Interesting form of wine tasting and great that you need not commit to a full bottle.

The food menu is European small plates with meats, fish and pasta options. It's interesting that they call it small-plates but it really seemed more like smaller portions of entree dishes. When I think of small-plates, I think of nibbles, appetizer-like selections that are perhaps portioned out for diners to share. Instead, Vinoteque offers dishes that look exactly like main courses (chicken, squab, lamb) and priced likewise.

A bottle of Prosecco for the table.

Charcuterie plate with lomo, Spanish chorizo and salami with crostini, cornichon and mustard. Lomo is cured pork loin, and was lean and thinly sliced. It tasted similar to prosciutto. The chorizo was hot and spicy. The components of this plate were fresh and tasty.

Duck breast with slow roasted butternut squash and pomegranate duck jus
The duck was cooked perfectly with a nice crispy skin, although they could have rendered the fat out a bit. I loved the creamy sweet butternut squash puree which worked well with the salty duck jus.

Braised short ribs with celery root, carrots and cippolinis
The short ribs were tender and delicious. It's a pretty heavy dish especially for late night grubbing, but the flavors were there.

Vinoteque is a sophisticated yet inviting joint. It'd be a great post-work happy hour joint or a weekend dinner and drinks venue. The food was good but I still found it odd that they touted the menu as small-plates but it didn't seem to be, nor was it priced that way. Otherwise, Vinoteque really did the trick for me. It lined my tummy with meats after a night of minimal food and maximum alcohol at the Street party.

Hits: lomo, duck, decor & ambiance
Misses: not really small plate prices
Rating: ***

7469 Melrose Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 860-6060

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